Brazil Expects Surge In Coronavirus Deaths Weeks After President Jair Bolsonaro Condemned ‘Hysteria’ Of Virus

A person in Sao Paulo wears a mask.
Miguel Schincariol / Getty Images

Brazil is preparing for an explosion in coronavirus cases and deaths, with some experts predicting that the state of Sao Paulo alone will match the current worldwide death total of more than 110,000 people. Many are pointing fingers at President Jair Bolsonaro for downplaying the severity of the virus.

As AFP reports, via Yahoo News, many Brazilians are ignoring the warnings from public health officials to stay home to slow the spread of the virus, while the country’s far-right president has condemned what he sees as “hysteria” surrounding it. That has led to what the report calls “dire” predictions of uncontrolled spread over the coming months, with surges expected from busy cities to remote rural areas.

Brazil has seen just over 1,500 deaths through Friday, the report noted, but projections show that this number will rise dramatically over a period of six months, with Sao Paulo being hit the hardest. The expected number of cases will be enough to overwhelm medical systems, the report added.

“But the state of Sao Paulo alone is expecting 111,000 deaths over six months, nearly equal to the entire worldwide toll to date,” the report noted.

“A number of states face the possibility that their healthcare systems will collapse. They include Sao Paulo; Rio de Janeiro, the second-hardest hit; and Amazonas, a huge territory with a large number of indigenous communities that have a tragic history of being decimated by new diseases.”

The report added that many people in Brazil have flouted recommendations from state and local officials to practice social distancing, which countries around the world have adopted in order to slow the spread of the unusually contagious novel coronavirus. Though officials in Sao Paulo set a goal of having 80 percent of the population staying in their homes, cell phone monitoring data shows that just less than half the population has done so.

Many have followed the lead of Bolsonaro, the AFP report noted, as the Brazilian president has compared coronavirus to “a little flu” and condemned the economic impact from measures calling on people to stay in their homes. Bolsonaro himself has flouted these rules and declared that he has a “constitutional right to come and go as I please,” the report added.

As the BBC reported back in late March, Bolsonaro has actively called on governors in the country to roll back the restrictions they had put in place to slow the spread of the virus, though many have defied his request.