A Brazilian second wave would be “much deadlier” than in Europe

. Nov 13, 2020
second wave coronavirus brazil

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Today, Brazil risks entering a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Bolsonaro loses support in latest opinion polls. And municipal elections are two days away.

Is a second wave on the horizon for Brazil?

Figures from nine Brazilian state capitals (out of 27) are showing signs that the Covid-19 pandemic

might be creeping toward a second wave in the country. The data comes from the <a href="https://gitlab.procc.fiocruz.br/mave/repo/-/blob/master/Boletins%20do%20InfoGripe/Resumo_InfoGripe_atual.pdf">InfoGripe report</a>, a weekly survey on respiratory diseases. Eight of these cities are located in the poor North and Northeast regions.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-map" data-src="visualisation/4337718"><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script></div> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> Scientists warn that earlier this year, the coronavirus first spread in major urban areas and went unchecked in the North and Northeast — Brazil&#8217;s two poorest regions, where access to sanitation is limited, and most municipalities do not have hospitals.</p> <ul><li>&#8220;There is no certainty of a second wave, but that possibility is becoming more real and should be considered by authorities,&#8221; said InfoGripe coordinator Marcelo Gomes. If it comes, a second wave could hit Brazil before Christmas.</li></ul> <p><strong>Human toll.</strong> At this point, most isolation measures enforced by local governments have been lifted, and public support for new lockdowns has waned due to the economic consequences of halting the in-person economy in a country where tens of millions work informally. &#8220;Brazil&#8217;s infection and death numbers stabilized at awfully high levels compared to other countries. That&#8217;s why a second wave could be much deadlier here than in Europe,&#8221; says Mr. Gomes.</p> <p><strong>Bellwether. </strong>As we showed in <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-daily/2020/11/12/brazil-tries-improve-trade-relations-united-kingdom/">yesterday&#8217;s Daily Briefing</a>, private hospitals in São Paulo registered a spike in admittance of severe Covid-19 patients in October. Meanwhile, doctors at the flagship Emílio Ribas Institute in São Paulo also say the number of patients in intensive care has quickly bounced back.</p> <ul><li>Data from the University of São Paulo shows a <a href="https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/brasil-54926384">50-percent increase</a> in the number of suspected coronavirus cases in Greater São Paulo, Brazil&#8217;s most populated urban area.</li><li>And this occurs precisely while the country is having trouble tallying all the data regarding the pandemic. A hack of the Health Ministry&#8217;s information systems made it impossible for multiple states to register their latest figures for infections and deaths this week.</li></ul> <p><strong>Government.</strong> Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said if a second wave hits Brazil, the coronavirus emergency aid will &#8220;definitely&#8221; be extended.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Poll: Bolsonaro&#8217;s approval ratings down</h2> <p>For the past three months, President Jair Bolsonaro has enjoyed his highest approval ratings since his early weeks in office. But recent polls show that support for him could be eroding. A PoderData survey shows the percentage of voters who approve of his administration fell from 52 percent last month to 45 percent today.</p> <p><strong>What is happening.</strong> A few factors may explain the reversal of the trend:</p> <ul><li>In recent months, the coronavirus emergency salary has been halved from its original monthly payments of BRL 600 (USD 110) —&nbsp;leading to an estimated 44-percent of income reduction for Brazil’s poorest 10 percent.</li><li>Moreover, the president has once again activated his lack of verbal restraint, butting heads with members of his administration, boycotting a coronavirus vaccine, and even flippantly suggesting that Brazil could go to war against the U.S. over Amazon deforestation issues.</li></ul> <p><strong>Future.</strong> Falling approval ratings will make the next election for House Speaker, scheduled for February 2021, all the more important. The Speaker holds all the power to block or open impeachment proceedings against the sitting president — and a sluggish economy combined with low approval ratings could make Mr. Bolsonaro an easier target.&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>That&#8217;s why he is committed to getting a close ally elected —&nbsp;even considering taking Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina out of the cabinet to <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-weekly/2020/10/13/forget-mayors-house-speaker-election-race-counts/">run for the Speaker position</a>.</li></ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Election Day approaches</h2> <p>In two days, Brazilians will choose their new mayors and city councilors. Here is what you need to know ahead of the vote:</p> <ul><li><strong>2020 is not 2018.</strong> While the 2018 elections were marked by a wave of newcomers sweeping races across the country, 2020 promises to be different. First-time candidates for mayor only have the lead in three of Brazil&#8217;s 27 state capitals. Moreover, nine of the 13 incumbents are leading their races. That has a lot to do with a reduced campaign, voters&#8217; divided attention with the pandemic, and a lack of televised debates, as most networks decided not to host candidates within their premises.</li><li><strong>Not interested … </strong>One-quarter of voters has <a href="https://www.poder360.com.br/poderdata/68-dos-brasileiros-ja-sabem-em-quem-votar-para-prefeito/">yet to decide</a> who they are voting for on Sunday. The number is higher among voters who approve of Jair Bolsonaro (77 percent have made their picks) as compared to those who reject him (66 percent). That could suggest that conservative candidates are favored to see election day bumps —&nbsp;but it doesn&#8217;t mean Mr. Bolsonaro will <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2020/11/07/despite-high-popularity-bolsonaro-is-no-kingmaker/">play kingmaker</a> this time around. Candidates backed by him in key constituencies are polling low and some could miss out second-round runoffs altogether.</li><li><strong>Dummies.</strong> A recent study using artificial intelligence to cross 35 variables regarding candidacies suggested that the 2020 election will have over <a href="https://politica.estadao.com.br/noticias/eleicoes,estudo-indica-ao-menos-5-mil-candidatas-laranjas-nas-eleicoes-2020,70003512533">5,000 dummy candidates</a>. These candidates are used as fronts by political parties, and the money declared to their electoral campaigns are siphoned to other candidates or party leaders.</li></ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>What else you need to know today</h2> <ul><li><strong>Banking.</strong> Dutch banks ING and ABN-Amro announced on Thursday that they will <a href="https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/mercado/2020/11/bancos-ing-e-abn-amro-encerram-operacoes-no-brasil.shtml">cease their Brazilian operations</a>. ING&#8217;s decision reportedly surprised its 90 staffers, as the bank was profitable and had a strong presence in the segments of agricultural and metal commodities. ABN-Amro, on the other hand, had failed to build a successful trade finance operation. The company mulled over creating a retail bank, but the massive investment required was deemed not worthwhile.</li><li><strong>New Sea Law. </strong>The Infrastructure Ministry is optimistic that it will have momentum to approve the <a href="https://brazilian.report/environment/2020/09/04/new-sea-law-could-revolutionize-protections-in-brazil-coastal-areas/">so-called &#8216;Sea Law&#8217;</a> in Congress, which would establish the National Policy for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Brazilian Marine Biome (PNCMar). If approved, the legislation would have legal mechanisms to protect environments such as <a href="https://brazilian.report/business/2019/07/22/seaborne-cargo-transportation-in-brazil/">Brazil’s territorial waters</a> and exclusive economic zone, estuaries, coastal lakes, rivers and channels, mangroves, tidal marshes, dunes, and other similar areas.</li><li><strong>Brumadinho.</strong> The state government of Minas Gerais and mining giant Vale have started negotiations over a confidential agreement concerning reparations for the <a href="https://brazilian.report/business/2020/03/10/mariana-brumadinho-mining-remains-unsafe-brazil/">2019 Brumadinho dam disaster</a>, which killed 272 people. Firms representing the victims claim they were excluded from talks and that the agreement would save Vale BRL 24 billion (USD 4.4 billion) in compensation payouts. </li><li><strong>Argentina. </strong>The Argentinian government has legalized the cultivation of medicinal marijuana for personal use. Argentinians will now be allowed to grow cannabis individually or in groups. Recreational use, however, remains banned.</li><li><strong>Turmoil. </strong>Three days after being removed from office by Congress, Peru&#8217;s former President Martín Vizcarra questioned the legitimacy of the new government and called on his supporters to protest on the streets. Peru currently faces a <a href="https://brazilian.report/latin-america/2020/11/10/the-future-peru-following-ousting-of-another-president/">multi-headed crisis</a>: economic downturn, an uncontrolled coronavirus spread, and a never-ending political deadlock.

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