Prosecutor opens investigation into Health Ministry hiding Covid-19 figures

Brazilian states improve Covid-19 transparency data
Image: Concept wW/Shutterstock

Brazil’s Federal Prosecution Office has opened an investigation into the Health Ministry after the total Covid-19 deaths and cases suspiciously disappeared from its official portal on Friday evening. Interim Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello now has 72 hours to provide justifications for the change in data reporting.

The government faces several other legal challenges after the Federal Public Defenders’ Office filed a lawsuit in São Paulo trying to force the government to disclose the data. Opposition members of Congress also plan to file lawsuits to ensure the transparency of pandemic-related data.

The government’s new strategy is to only release the daily figures for deaths and infections, while hiding the total numbers since the beginning of the pandemic. President Jair Bolsonaro claimed the changes in data procedures were implemented to “allow us to monitor the reality of the country and come up with appropriate strategies to serve the population.” The portal also went offline on Friday for several hours and the Health Ministry neglected to inform the public of the reason for the downtime. 

The ministry’s new advisor, billionaire Carlos Wizard Martins — who is also tipped to be the next Health Minister — claimed that municipalities and states were inflating the number of victims to squeeze more money out of the federal government to fight the disease.

Support this coverage →Support this coverage →