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Brazilian President sacks health minister in rift over Covid-19

BRAZIL’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro sacked health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta during an emergency meeting on Thursday after a weeks-long spat over the Covid-19 crisis.

The minister confirmed he had been removed from post while insisting that the coronavirus pandemic “is the great challenge that our healthcare system faces.”

Earlier he had told journalists that his departure was imminent, saying: “It has been 60 days of this battle. I am tired.”

Mr Bolsonaro has been slammed by the health sector over his handling of the pandemic, with staff complaining of a lack of protective equipment and being overworked due to shortages.

The President has continued to downplay the seriousness of Covid-19, branding it a media fantasy and mocking efforts to contain its spread.

He was defeated earlier this week when the Supreme Court ruled that states and municipalities could exercise their own judgement in introducing emergency lockdown measures.

Sao Paolo governor Joao Doria claimed to have received death threats after criticising Mr Bolsonaro’s approach to coronavirus.

Brazil is the worst-affected country in the region, with nearly 31,000 recorded cases and almost 2,000 deaths, though reports suggest that the true scale may be far greater.

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