WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Brazil has reached a grim milestone as the nation passed 100,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths on Saturday.
- It is the second country to hit a six-figure death toll next to the United States.
- President Jair Bolsonaro has played down the seriousness of the pandemic and opposed lockdowns issued by local officials.
Brazil’s death toll from the coronavirus reached 100,000 on Saturday and continues to rise as most Brazilian cities reopen businesses even though the pandemic has yet to peak.
The first cases of the novel coronavirus were first reported in Brazil at the end of February. In just three months, the virus has killed 50,000 people. The next 50,000 deaths were recorded just 50 days later.
President Jair Bolsonaro has played down the gravity of the pandemic and opposed lockdowns issued by local officials.
“We should be living in despair, because this is a tragedy like a world war. But Brazil is under collective anesthesia,” said Dr. José Davi Urbaez, a senior member of the Infectious Diseases Society.
Urbaez and other public health officials have raised concerns that the country still has no coordinated plan to fight the pandemic.
On Saturday, the health ministry reported 49,970 new confirmed cases and 905 deaths in the last 24 hours, increasing the number of cases to more than 3 million and the death toll to 100,477.
Brazil’s Supreme Court and Congress, institutions that have criticized Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic, respectively declared three and four days of national mourning for the 100,000 dead. The president did not comment publicly.
Bolsonaro, who has been tested positive for COVID-19 last month, claims he recovered thanks to hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug that remains unproven against the coronavirus.
“We don’t know where it will stop, maybe at 150,000 or 200,000 deaths. Only time will show the full impact of COVID-19 here,” said Alexandre Naime, head of Sao Paulo State University’s department of infectious diseases.
He said the only comparison may be diseases brought by colonizers, such as smallpox, that decimated indigenous populations when Europeans first arrived in the Americas.
While that history is long past, Urbaez said Brazil today seems equally resigned to the COVID-19 deaths to come.
“The government’s message today is: ‘Catch your coronavirus and if it’s serious, there is intensive care.’ That sums up our policy today,” said Urbaez of the Infectious Disease Society.