Brazil’s Supreme Court will force the country’s government to reinstate coronavirus data as allegations the nation is trying to cover up its COVID-19 crisis continue.
Brazil’s Health Ministry deleted troves of detailed data over the weekend and announced it would no longer publish the country’s daily cases or fatality figures.
Brazil has quickly become one of the countries worst hit by coronavirus with more than 700,000 cases – second only to the United States. The country’s death toll has also overtaken Italy’s with 35,930 deaths, and looks set to pass the United Kingdom’s.
In an attempt to cover up the crisis, the country’s health ministry wiped months of coronavirus data – a move they’ll now have to reverse.
In a statement posted to the Supreme Court website in the early hours of Tuesday, Justice Alexandre de Moraes said the Health Ministry must “fully re-establish the daily dissemination of epidemiological data on the COVID-19 pandemic”.
The government’s actions in recent days has made it “impossible” to monitor the spread of the virus and to implement adequate and necessary control and prevention policies, he said.
He said failure to adopt internationally recognised methods of data collection, analysis, and dissemination could have “disastrous consequences” for the country.
The country’s controversial leader, Jair Bolsonaro, faces increasing global criticism for his response to the pandemic, and his insistence on prioritising the country’s economy over the health crisis.
He has also been slammed for downplaying the pandemic, having infamously compared it to a “little flu”, and for touting an antimalarial drug as a cure for the virus despite inconclusive scientific evidence.
He also played up the fact that people under the age 40 were less likely to die from COVID-19, telling Brazilians that 90 per cent of “us” would not exhibit symptoms even if “we” were infected.
He also said Brazilians should be careful not to spread the virus to “our” parents and grandparents, but added that if some people die, such as his mother, who is more than 90 years old, then he would say: “I’m sorry … that’s life.”
On Friday, the federal Health Ministry took down a website that had showed daily, weekly and monthly figures on infections and deaths in Brazilian states.
On Saturday, the site returned but the total numbers of infections for states and the nation were no longer there. The site earlier showed only the numbers for the previous 24 hours.
Mr Bolsonaro tweeted on Saturday that disease totals were “not representative” of the country’s current situation.
– With Gavin Fernando