Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Calls Coronavirus 'A Little Flu,' Pushes Back Against Lockdown Measures

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is pushing back against the general reaction to the coronavirus, calling the global pandemic "a little flu" and speaking out against some strict measures being taken across his country in order to slow its growth.

Latin America had been one of the lightest-hit regions of the world, but as cases there start to increase, the Brazilian president has dismissed world leaders calling it a global crisis. As reported, Bolsonaro said that the aggressive measures being taken by state governors were "crimes" and told reporters that he believes Brazilians' natural immunity to the virus will protect the nation.

"The Brazilian needs to be studied. He doesn't catch anything," the Brazilian president said. "You see a guy jumping into sewage, diving in, right? Nothing happens to him. I think a lot of people were already infected in Brazil, weeks or months ago, and they already have the antibodies that help it not proliferate. I'm hopeful that's really a reality."

As the report noted, his statements have drawn sharp rebukes from medical experts. Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, experts say that strict social distancing measures are needed to slow the transmission and keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with victims. In the United States and other countries, that has meant shutting down non-essential businesses and placing strict measures calling on residents to remain in their homes as much as possible.

As The Associated Press noted, many local leaders in Brazil have adopted similar measures. The governors of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have banned public gatherings and closed schools and businesses. As the report noted, not only are these two of the hardest-hit areas, but both governors are seen as potential opponents for Bolsonaro in the 2022 presidential race.

Some political experts believe that Bolsonaro already has an eye on his re-election in two and a half years, setting up the Brazilian people to blame governors and the stringent lockdown measures if the economy should sour.

There has been an increase in COVID-19 cases despite these measures. As the report noted, the number of coronavirus cases in Brazil has topped 3,400, along with 90 deaths.

Polling has shown that the Brazilian people do not support Bolsonaro's approach, with the pollster Datafolha finding this month that 54 percent approved of the way their governors were handling the crisis, and 73 percent supported total isolation efforts. Just 33 percent backed the president in his approach to the pandemic.