Brazil is facing a spike of COVID-19 cases, setting a new daily coronavirus deaths record — but President Jair Bolsonaro says its citizens should “stop whining.”
The health ministry reported on Tuesday a daily total of 1,972 new deaths in the country. The country currently has the world’s second-highest overall toll, exceeded only by the United States.
More than 80% of intensive care unit beds are occupied in 25 of Brazil’s 27 state capitals. In Rio de Janeiro, 93% of ICU beds are occupied, and Brasília has only 3% available, the department reports. Several cities have even exceeded capacity.
Fiocruz epidemiologist Jesem Orellana told AFP the “fight against COVID-19 was lost in 2020.”
Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the virus, despite testing positive for the virus himself months back.
The coronavirus outbreak has killed more than 260,000 people in the country. Last week, Bolsonaro snapped on supporters for challenging him about the rising death toll.
In Brazil, the virus disproportionately affects its Black population, resulting from fundamental racism that dates back to slavery. Residential segregation and discrimination limit opportunities for Black people across many sectors, including access to adequate medical care and resources.
Bolsonaro remains defiant.
“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 South American premier has dished 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.
Now all Brazilians can do is hope the current administration has a change of heart.
“The best we can do is hope for the miracle of mass vaccination or a radical change in the management of the pandemic,” Orellana added. “Today, Brazil is a threat to humanity and an open-air laboratory where impunity in management seems to be the rule.”