Brazil’s former health minister informed a parliamentary inquiry that President Jair Bolsonaro ignored repeated warnings about his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I warned Bolsonaro systematically of the consequences of not adopting the recommendations of science,” former Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said.
During the inquiry, Mandetta presented the CPI with a letter dated March 28, 2020. The letter urged the president to follow health ministry recommendations.
Less than a month later, he was fired for challenging the president’s endorsement of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment. Donald Trump, an allay of Bolsonaro, was also condemned for pushing hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 cure against the advisement of the medical community.
Bolsonaro has taken a laissez-faire approach to the virus, and this week, the country surpassed cases.
“There was no communication plan. There was none. The normal thing, when you have an infectious disease, is that you have an institutional campaign. … There was no way to do a campaign, they didn’t want to do it,” he said, adding that he warned Bolsonaro that the virus could kill up to 180,000 people if left uncontained by December 2020.
The country reported 194,949 deaths last year. More than 400,000 Brazilians have died since the start of the pandemic.
The inquiry could lead to the premier’s ousting.
“I am not worried because we owe nothing,” Bolsonaro told reporters last week, shrugging off the inquiry as an “off-season carnival.”
Earlier this year, Bolsonaro attacked reporters for harping on about the devastation of the virus.
“Stop all this fussing and whining. How long are you going to keep on crying?” Bolsonaro said in Goiás. His callous remarks are not even the worst the far-right has doled out over recent months.
In November, Bolsonaro said Brazil needs to “stop being a country of f*gs” in dealing with COVID-19 and “face-up to the crisis and fight,” São Paulo journalist Gabriel Leão wrote via Al Jazeera.