Even as stringent lockdowns and exacting restrictions are placed by many countries battling the unabated proliferation of Wuhan Coronavirus, Brazilian President Bolsonaro is marching to a different beat to tackle the virus that has so far affected over 4,20,000 people across the globe and rendered about 19,000 dead.
As cities in Brazil came to a standstill following the lockdown in the country, the Brazilian President in his address on Tuesday night urged mayors and state governors to roll down the restriction measures, terming them as “hysteria” over the coronavirus and claiming that Brazilians have nothing to fear about Italy-like situation because of the Latin American country’s younger population and warmer climate.
“We must return to normality, life must continue and jobs be preserved. The few states and city halls should abandon their scorched-earth policies,” said Bolsonaro while adding, “Most people, including myself, have nothing to fear about the virus. In my particular case, with my history as an athlete, if I were infected with the virus, I would have no reason to worry, I would feel nothing, or it would be at most just little flu.”
Bolsonaro has been facing a growing storm of criticism in Brazil for his laissez-faire attitude towards taming the virus, downplaying it as “fantasy” and a “small flu” despite the contagion’s unbridled expansion to more than 122 countries across the world. Opinion polls have suggested that Bolsonaro’s popularity is plummeting as he displays cavalier disregard in acknowledging and dealing with a pandemic.
Brazil has so far registered 46 deaths due to coronavirus, with 12 deaths recorded on Tuesday itself. The cases have risen from 1891 to 2201 as per the government figures. However, if the evidence from the countries it has affected so far is to be considered, if sufficient measures are not put in place, it can lead to an exponential upsurge in the cases and greater chances of community transmission, making it all the more difficult for the country to control the situation.
In addition, Brazil’s economic prospects amid the pandemic are not very bright. According to data, consumer confidence has fallen to a three-year low in March and retail sales in January tanked at the steepest rate in over a year, illustrating that the consumer spending was already very weak even before the coronavirus outbreak hit the Brazilian shores.
The slowdown is all set to exacerbate as Brazilian city Sao Paulo began a two-week lockdown on Tuesday. However, if stringent measures are not imposed now, the pandemic has a potential of inflicting irreparable and devastating impact on the lives of Brazilians as evidenced in the contagion’s deadly run in Italy which has so far witnessed 6800 deaths and a total collapse of the public health system.
Italy has been under complete lockdown since March 9, 2020. The steady rise in the spread of the contagion in Spain has also forced the European country to impose drastic measures and curtail individual liberties in the face of lethal crisis. Witnessing Italy’s worsening situation, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom too followed the suit and ordered a mandatory lockdown of their countries barring the sale of essential items to combat the Wuhan coronavirus. India, too announced sweeping lockdown of the entire country for 21 days- the most severe step taken anywhere in the war against the coronavirus.