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System glitches compromise Brazil’s official Covid-19 data

. Jun 19, 2020
System glitches compromise official Covid-19 data Photo: Jorge Hely Veiga/Shutterstock

For the second day in a row, the National Health Database — which records official nationwide numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths — has been hit by a system glitch. On Thursday, June 18, São Paulo’s Health Secretary José Henrique Germann announced that data in Brazil’s most populous and worst-hit state São Paulo are being underreported due to problems with the National Health Database, which is the responsibility of the Health Ministry. 

Without the database, the state can only identify the cases that required hospitalization through other information sources. Mr. Germann also said the state had already asked the federal government to rectify this problem, indicating that the issue is also occurring in other states.

São Paulo recorded 1,111 new cases on June 18 and 1,232 confirmed cases the previous day. These numbers average 80 percent lower than those recorded on Wednesday and Thursday last week, when the system was fully functional. The state has recorded a total of 192,628 cases since the start of the pandemic. The Health Ministry claimed on June 18 that it was close to stabilizing the curve, despite the fact that the data it is using is compromised and the numbers of cases and deaths are still rising.

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Benjamin Fogel

Benjamin Fogel is a Ph.D. candidate in Latin American History at New York University and a Contributing Editor to Jacobin Magazine.

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