Coronavirus cases in Brazil skyrocket as Bolsonaro fights lockdowns

Coronavirus cases in Brazil skyrocket as Bolsonaro fights lockdowns”

Nelson Teich's sudden resignation was announced in a curt WhatsApp message from the health ministry on Friday morning.

A day after the country passed Spain and Italy to have the world's fourth-largest COVID-19 outbreak, Mr Bolsonaro did push-ups with paratroopers and flouted social-distancing measures to pose for photos with children.

Bolsonaro in a video conference with business leaders had promised to ease rules for the use of chloroquine while Teich had earlier too warned of side effects of using the antimalarial drug.

He has defied health experts and called for widespread use of drugs that have not been proved to be effective. But researchers last month reported no benefit in a large analysis of the drug or a related substance, hydroxychloroquine, in US hospitals for veterans.

The southeast Asian state of 267 million has tested 140,473 people so far, according to its Health Ministry.

Governors who have taken a more cautious road than Bolsonaro's during the pandemic praised Teich's efforts.

More news: Canada’s entertainment industry is losing millions due to the coronavirus pandemic

It is also said that Teich could not deliver his duties freely as dozens of military personnel were appointed in various capacities in the health ministry.

In the face of mixed messages, and with little government help at hand, not enough Brazilians are staying at home to slow the spread of the virus, the BBC's Americas editor Candace Piette says.

Before assuming as Vice Minister of Health, he worked as logistics coordinator of the Welcome Operation, the initiative launched by the Brazilian Government to receive and attend to the thousands of Venezuelans who cross the border fleeing from the political, economic, social and humanitarian crisis in their country. "That is an affront to the nation", Camilo Santana said. He replaced Nelson Mandetta, who was sacked on April 16 for reportedly resisting Bolsonaro's pressure to fight state government social-distancing orders.

For most of his career held positions in the logistics area of the Armed Forces, among which that of the Army's logistics coordinator during the Olympic Games that Rio de Janeiro organized in 2016 and that of commander of the Logistics Base on the triple border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. He took over at a time when the country is under severe pressure to balance the public health with the President's view of saving the economy.

"He clearly had limitations", Lago said. "He would never accept the chloroquine thing that Bolsonaro wanted him to do, to recommend publicly that chloroquine was a remedy to be used in the public health system".

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