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Brazilian government accused of ‘sabotaging’ health measures as Covid death toll hits 4,000 a day

HEALTH experts accused the Brazilian government of sabotaging public health measures after the country’s daily Covid-19 death toll surpassed 4,000 on Tuesday.

“The anti-lockdown narrative of President Jair Bolsonaro has won,” Institute for Health Policy Studies executive director Miguel Lago said, as Brazil became the third country globally, after the United States and Peru, to record the grim milestone.

“Mayors and governors are politically prohibited from beefing up social distancing policies because they know supporters of the president, including business leaders, will sabotage it,” he said.

Over 90 per cent of intensive care beds are now occupied in most Brazilian states and hundreds are dying before beds become available.

Health measures vary widely by region, with some allowing and others banning Easter church services. Rio de Janeiro opened schools on Tuesday, while professional football was due to resume in Sao Paulo. At both federal and state level, legal battles are being fought over lockdown measures — adding to the confusion.

Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) MP Jandira Feghali wrote an open letter to new Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga, saying that “the lack of national co-ordination in the adoption of basic measures to contain the virus … have allied with a war against governors and mayors who acted to preserve lives.”

She called on him to “look in the rearview mirror” at the three predecessors sacked so far during the pandemic – two for becoming “incompatible with the anti-scientific and genocidal policy adopted” by the Bolsonaro government and the most recent for bringing the health system to the point of collapse by complying with the president’s policy. The country was crying out for a national policy, she stressed.

But the PCdoB says the situation will only get worse with a new law allowing private companies to buy vaccines to immunise their staff, passed on Tuesday.

Its parliamentary leader Renildo Calheiros said the law would create a “parallel market” and undermine the effort to prioritise the vaccination of vulnerable groups.

It would also affect the public-sector vaccine supply, he said, arguing that “if we allow companies to buy the vaccine, they will go aggressively to the market and the public sector will go short.”

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