Bolsonaro and the Coronavirus
Cartoon by Jika

Beware of the viral president!

The novel coronavirus was first detected in mid-December 2019. Since then, the world has seen over 121,000 infections—and 4,300-plus deaths—spread across 114 countries. On March 11, the World Health Organization finally decided to declare the virus’ spread a pandemic.

But not to President Jair Bolsonaro. In his latest declaration, the leader said the coronavirus outbreak is “a fantasy” created by the media. “That’s not all they are talking about,” he said. Well, yesterday Brazilian Health Ministry’s most recent update confirmed the country’s 52nd case of the coronavirus, making Brazil the place with most cases in Latin America. There are also 907 suspected infections. 

Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said Brazil is about to face a boom in confirmed infections in what will be “a harsh 20 weeks ahead.” At the new, upcoming stage, transmissions will happen locally and the path of the virus will no longer be clear. 

When compared to Asia, Europe, or North America, countries in Latin America have only been marginally affected by the outbreak at the time of publication – With Brazil as the country in which most of the region’s infections have been confirmed. However, as Mr. Bolsonaro disregards the effects in Brazil, El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele put the country of 6 million people in quarantine, even though no cases have appeared in the Central American nation. Schools and universities are closed until further notice. 

Meanwhile, Brazil’s Education Ministry Abraham Weintraub is mulling over suspending classes, as the President himself ignores the pandemic. Will the president trust the existence of the virus before it is too late to avoid a disaster? 

Background reading