BRASILIA: Brazil’s government resumed publishing the country’s total death toll from the coronavirus pandemic after facing accusations of trying to hide the magnitude of the health crisis.
President Jair Bolsonaro’s government had stopped publishing the total number of deaths from the new coronavirus last Friday and said it was adopting a new methodology and would only report the number of deaths recorded in the past 24 hours.
This drew accusations of foul play from several critics, as well as a ruling from Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes on Monday that the government must return to the old format.
The health ministry complied and indicated the death toll had risen by 1,272, to a total of 38,406 people killed by the virus. This is the third-highest toll in the world after the United States and Britain.
The ministry also said the total number of confirmed infections had risen to 739,503, the second-highest caseload in the world after the US.
Bolsonaro, who famously compared the virus to a “little flu,” has railed against the consensus response to the pandemic and said stay-at-home measures are needlessly wrecking the economy.
On Friday, he threatened to quit the World Health Organisation, while the global health body was criticised by foreign minister Ernesto Araujo.
“The WHO lacks independence, transparency and coherence. The foreign ministry is following its role with great concern,” Araujo said. “We need to look into it. Is it a matter of political influence, is it a matter of non-state actors influencing the WHO?”
Bolsonaro’s threat to quit the WHO followed in the footsteps of President Donald Trump, who withdrew the United States from the organisation last month. Trump accused the WHO of bias in favor of China amid clashes over the origin and handling of the pandemic.