Government whip talks of “comfortable” situation as deaths pile up

deaths Congressman Ricardo Barros. Photo: Valter Campanato/ABr
Congressman Ricardo Barros. Photo: Valter Campanato/ABr

Ricardo Barros, the government’s whip in Congress, said during an interview on Wednesday that Brazil’s pandemic situation is “somewhat comfortable,” when compared to other countries. One day before, however, Brazil confirmed 2,841 new deaths — more than any other country in the world according to tallies tabulated by big data platform Our World In Data.

Brazil accounts for less than 3 percent of the world population, and but saw 28 percent of all global coronavirus deaths on Tuesday — and 10 percent of all deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

While daily tallies can fluctuate, seven-day averages offer a more reliable picture of the spread and its severity. Since February 24, Brazil’s seven-day average of new daily deaths has broken records every day.

A former Health Minister himself, Mr. Barros tried to deflect accusations that the government is liable for the current health emergency, calling the ongoing brutal surge of cases and deaths “natural,” and claiming Brazil’s public healthcare system is “more than suited to cope with demand.”

Reality is much bleaker, however. The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation — a flagship medical institution which operates under the purview of the federal government — called the current situation the “single worst health crisis in Brazilian history,” and warned of an imminent collapse of health networks in several states. 

All but two states have intensive care occupancy rates at “critical” levels — and local administrations have tried, without any federal coordination, to implement their own quarantine measures.

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