Nelson Teich, the Health Minister of Brazil, announced at a press conference late Friday afternoon that he is leaving the position. Teich is the second health minister to leave his post within one month. His predecessor, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, was fired this past April.
Though Teich gave no reason for his decision, the move comes after reports that he vehemently disagreed with how President Jair Bolsonaro has handled the coronavirus pandemic, as was reported by the BBC.
What was alleged to be the final straw for Teich was Bolsonaro’s push to use chloroquine as a treatment for the virus.
Though the drug had garnered widespread attention, and had even been previously lauded by U.S. President Donald Trump, the World Health Organization has claimed that there is no definitive evidence that the malaria treatment works for COVID-19.
But that was not the only point of contention between the two men. Teich also disagreed with President Bolsonaro’s decision to begin reopening the economy in spite of the growing number of coronavirus cases throughout the country.
Bolsonaro issued an order last week to allow the reopening of businesses such as gyms, beauty salons, and hairdressers. Teich claimed that he had not been aware of the plans before Bolsonaro declared them publicly.
Teich is not the first health minister to have a strained relationship with the Brazilian president. Mandetta was fired by Bolsonaro after the former urged citizens to stay indoors and follow social distancing.
The BBC had previously referred to the coronavirus’ spread in Brazil as an “undocumented virus explosion” and claimed that many believed the South American nation was severely undercounting its total of infected patients.
According to reports, figures from the Civil Registry noted a nearly 10 percent increase in those dying of acute respiratory syndrome — a complication of coronavirus — this past March, compared to one year ago.
“All we see is the tip of the iceberg,” explained Dr. Carolina Lazari, medical chief of the molecular biology laboratory at Latin America’s biggest hospital, Hospital das Clínicas.
“In Brazil we only test the patients that go to hospital and stay there – the more severe cases – but we don’t know how the virus is circulating in the population.”
Brazil currently claims that it has 234,000 positive cases, in addition to over 15,500 deaths. The number of infections has jumped by nearly 15,000 in the past 24 hours alone.
The president of the South American nation has often courted controversy with a number of inflammatory statements. For example, he recently accused the World Health Organization of brainwashing children to become “gay” in a Facebook post that was later deleted, as was previously reported by The Inquisitr.