Brazil reported a record 881 Covid-19 deaths in 24 hours on Tuesday, its health ministry said, taking its total to 12,400 and making it the world’s sixth worst-affected country in terms of deaths, according to John Hopkins University figures. Its total of 177,589 confirmed cases is the world’s seventh-highest.’
Statues of the Monumento das Bandeiras are seen with face masks during the spread of the coronavirus disease in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 12 May 2020. Photograph: Amanda Perobelli/Reuters
Earlier far-right president Jair Bolsonaro – who has attacked social isolation measures introduced by state governors – issued a decree declaring beauty salons, gyms and barbers “essential services” that could open. Several governors said they would ignore the decree.
Bolsonaro was also battling his latest political crisis – fears that a supreme court judge could release a video of an expletive-filled ministerial meeting held on April 22 which reportedly includes his foreign minister Ernesto Araújo blaming China, Brazil’s biggest trading partner, for the pandemic he dubbed a “comunavirus” (or “communist virus”), aimed at dominating other nations.
“The coronavirus was again woken us up to the communist nightmare. The coronavirus has arrived,” he wrote. Brazil’s attorney-general’s office had argued against handing over the video to the Supreme Court, claiming it contained “potentially sensitive and reserved state subjects, including foreign relations”, but was overruled.
Adding to the widening sense that Brazil’s far right is increasingly disconnected from the horrific reality of the pandemic as it spreads into poorer, densely packed communities, the presidential family’s guru Olavo de Carvalho questioned its very existence on Tuesday.
“The fear of a supposedly deadly virus is nothing more than a horror story to cow the population and make them accept slavery as a gift from Santa Claus,” tweeted the Richmond, Virginia-based, far-right astrologer-turned-philosopher, believed to have recommended Araújo to the post, to his 291,000 followers.