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Brazil Stops Publishing Key COVID-19 Data Amid Soaring Infections & Death Toll

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COVID-19 infections and deaths

Amidst anti-government protests and surging virus-infected cases in Brazil, a major controversy has broken out over the administration’s attempt to hide the data related to the total number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in the country. As per media reports, Brazil’s Health Ministry removed the COVID-19 data that it had been regularly updating from every state and municipality from its official website on Friday. Later on Saturday, the data was updated on the website showing only the numbers from the previous 24 hours, and not the total numbers. According to health ministry officials, the unprecedented move was ordered by President Bolsonaro. 

Taking to Twitter on Saturday, the Brazilian President had posted that the “cumulative data does not reflect the moment the country is in”, adding that the move will help in improving the reporting of cases.

Significantly, the decision met with wide criticism from members of Congress, state governors, doctors, medical associations, and journalists among other stakeholders pf the Brazilian society as the South American country became one of the world’s worst-hit COVID-19 hotspots. They attacked the Bolsonaro administration for attempting to control the information. At the same time, an investigation has been launched by federal prosecutors on Saturday to probe the reasons that led the Health Ministry to remove the data of the cumulative number of deaths from the disease. Furthermore, a letter has been sent to the interim Minister of Health, Eduardo Pazuello to provide an explanation over the move within 72 hours. 

On Saturday, the Johns Hopkins University reportedly deleted data on Brazil’s infections from its website for a while but later reinstated it. According to the worldometers.info website on June 8, Brazil has reported over 6,91,000 cases across the country, with over 37,000 people dying from the disease.

Brazil’s medical professionals have asserted that the lack of information about the infected cases would hamper the fight against the pandemic across various cities in the country. Repeatedly downplaying the threats of the virus, Brazil’s administration under far-right President Bolsonaro has been working on easing lockdown restrictions with shops and businesses gradually reopening in states like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

A statement has released by Brazil’s national council of state health secretaries maintaining that it would fight the modifications made by the President.

“The authoritarian, insensitive, inhuman, and unethical attempt to make those killed by Covid-19 invisible will not succeed. We and Brazilian society will not forget them, nor the tragedy that befalls the nation,” said Alberto Beltrame, president of the health secretaries council. 

Bolsonaro’s Coronavirus handling has faced criticism from all sections of society at home and abroad. From flouting lockdown measures to devaluing the COVID-19 pandemic as a “little flu”, the Brazilian President’s dismissive response to the health crisis has resulted in the decimation of the country’s health service and economy. Adding to Brazil’s woes, Bolsonaro last week threatened to pull out of the World Health Organization (WHO) over “ideological bias”. Addressing the reporters in front of the presidential palace, he said, “The US withdrew from the WHO and we are working on it. Either the WHO works without an ideological party or we withdraw from this organization.”

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