The coronavirus outbreak in Brazil has steadily worsened as death rates have surpassed Italy’s, and the country has become the second-leading nation in the world in infection rates, behind the United States.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly down played the severity of the virus calling it “a little flu” and when asked what he would say to Brazilians who have suffered from the pandemic, he said death is “everyone’s destiny.”
"I regret all the dead but it is everyone's destiny," Bolsonaro told reporters earlier this week.
Brazil has nearly 615,000 reported cases of coronavirus and over 34,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data, Friday.
A local newspaper, the Folha de S.Paulo, said the virus now is “killing a Brazilian per minute” and noted that “While you were reading this, another Brazilian died from the coronavirus,” Reuters reported.
Bolsonaro has pushed to end state quarantine measures and voiced support for protesters who want the military to shutdown Congress and the Supreme Court, and allow the economy to reopen.
He also called for the federal solicitor general to sue states during a Facebook Live event, in an effort to force them to reopen their beaches and non-essential businesses.
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Brazilian Health Minister Dr. Nelson Teich resigned less than a month ago following disagreements with Bolsonaro over how to balance the pandemic and the economy -- social distancing was reportedly a common issue of frustration.
Teich also opposed distributing the anti-malaria drug, chloroquine, to coronavirus-positive patients, saying it was “an uncertainty.”
Research in the United States found no benefits of using the drug to fight the coronavirus.
Teich served for only a month after replacing the first Minister of Health, Luiz Henrique, who was reportedly fired by Bolsonaro after disagreements arose over how to handle the coronavirus crisis.
Bolsonaro has not yet refilled the Health Minster position as medical experts continue to warn against the threat of the virus in Brazil.