Brazil’s Health Minister calls lockdown a “mistake”

lockdown new health minister
Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga. Photo: Anderson Riedel/PR

In an interview with CNN Brasil, newly-inaugurated Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga once again spoke out against a nationwide lockdown. Brazil has broken multiple records for new daily deaths and cases of late, pushing states’ health networks to the brink of collapse. Even so, the country’s new top health official says “extreme measures must be taken on a local level.” 

Per Mr. Queiroga, Brazil needs “educational campaigns showing the importance of face masks,” over one year and 312,000 deaths into the pandemic. Indeed, the Health Minister’s boss, President Jair Bolsonaro, hardly ever wears masks. In February, he told supporters that using face masks can cause multiple side effects.

Experts say a severe 14-day lockdown would be the best way to prevent a full-scale health collapse in Brazil, but the federal government opposes the measure — even suing states which opted for lockdown-like measures. Mr. Bolsonaro says the negative economic effects of halting the economy will outweigh any health benefit.

Data from the International Monetary Fund, however, shows that countries with lower coronavirus-related death rates experienced a lower GDP slump in 2020.