Brazil on the brink of a Covid-19 disaster

University study says actual coronavirus infection number is 13 times higher than the 26,652 officially recognized by the Health Ministry

According to a joint study by the universities of Sao Paulo and Brasilia, the actual number of Brazilians infected by the Sars-Cov-2 virus is 13 times higher than what’s officially recognized by the Health Ministry.

The official numbers, as of Wednesday, said there were 25,652 Covid-19 cases and 1,532 deaths. The study says that actually Brazil should have 312,000 infected people – and counting, raising the possibility of a health catastrophe before the end of April.

The Latin American country hardest hit by the pandemic, Brazil is registering a higher percentage of people cured of Covid-19 than carriers. The disparity is essentially due to the lack of testing, not to mention contact tracing – the practices that ensured the success of the South Korean model.

Former President Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached in 2016, has stressed the absolute incompetence of the Jair Bolsonaro government in dealing with the pandemic: “Why is there no testing? What are they trying to conceal? The number of deaths?”

The explosive situation is a direct consequence of President Bolsonaro’s bet on a strategy of disinformation, dismissing Covid-19 as a “mere flu.” He’s at odds with Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, Bolsonaro’s own appointee, who’s about to be fired before the end of the week.

The predictable health debacle in Brazil is also a direct consequence of the neoliberal economic debacle – wherein public health is not a priority and poor Brazilians have been left on their own, as well as demonized.

Bolsonaro adamantly denies the gravity of the crisis and is desperate to reopen the shattered Brazilian economy. In Atlanticist circles, he’s rated as the worst global leader in the fight against Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the response to Covid-19 has been taken over by local governors, ministers and top generals. Bolsonaro continues to dismiss containment measures taken by the states and recommended by the health minister, who’s been following World Health Organization protocols and, at least so far, has been supported by the military.

Governors test positive

Two Brazilian state governors who have criticized Bolsonaro’s calls to relax containment measures said Tuesday they had tested positive for the new coronavirus, Agence France Presse reported.

On Twitter, governors Wilson Witzel of Rio de Janeiro and Helder Barbalho of Para, a state in the north, had videos disclosing their diagnoses and calling upon people to stay home to fight the virus’s spread.

Witzel, a leading proponent of closing non-essential businesses and ordering people to stay home, said he had started feeling unwell Friday, with a fever, sore throat and loss of smell, a key symptom of the virus.

“Today, the test result came back positive,” said Witzel, 52, adding: “Now, thank God, I’m feeling better, and will continue working while following my doctors’ advice.

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