Health Minister says “Brazil is flying blind”

Health Minister Nelson Teich. Photo: José Dias/PR
Health Minister Nelson Teich. Photo: José Dias/PR

In a video-conference with senators, Brazil’s newly appointed Health Minister Nelson Teich admitted that the government has no idea of the true extent of the coronavirus outbreak in Brazil. “We don’t know the percentage of people infected, as most people are asymptomatic. We don’t know if those people are as contagious as more severe patients,” he said.

Just one day after greenlighting the use of rapid tests in pharmacies, Mr. Teich said that “the tests [Brazil is using] do not allow us to know the reality.” As The Brazilian Report has warned on several occasions, the Health Minister said Brazil is “literally flying blind.” In light of the lack of data, Mr. Teich took an approach that could quickly deteriorate his relationship with President Jair Bolsonaro: “Radicalizing social distancing is necessary. The only thing we know is that distancing lowers the contagion curve.” 

Mr. Teich has yet to present his own plan to fight the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Jair Bolsonaro has once again spoken out against social isolation measures, even suggesting that state governors should be held accountable for the Covid-19 death toll in their constituencies. Bashing governors appears to be the president’s new strategy to divert responsibility away from himself, as the head of state now seems to have abandoned his defense of antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which he once hailed as a “potential cure” for Covid-19.