RÍO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro declared on Wednesday that “there will be no national confinement,” disregarding the calls of health experts and despite the fact that the country recorded its highest number of deaths from COVID the day before. 19 in a single day since the start of the pandemic.
The Health Ministry recorded 4,195 deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday, becoming the third country to exceed that threshold, as Bolsonaro’s political opponents demanded stricter measures to curb the spread of the virus.
“We are not going to accept this policy of staying at home and closing everything,” said the president, resisting pressure in a speech delivered from the city of Chapeco, in the state of Santa Catarina. “There will be no national confinement.”
The president also defended so-called early care protocols, which include the use of hydroxychloroquine, a drug to fight malaria. No scientific studies have found the drug to be effective in preventing or treating COVID-19.
“Today there are not enough vaccines in the world. We must find alternatives ”, he commented.
The number of deaths related to the virus in Chapeco has finally dropped after several very difficult weeks. The intensive care units exceeded their capacity, forcing the authorities to transfer patients to hospitals in other states.
Last month, the city implemented some restrictions on economic activities for two weeks, but Bolsonaro attributed the recent success to the use of early care protocols, according to a report from the Estadão newspaper.
In an open letter published Tuesday in the daily O Globo, the Brazilian Association for Collective Health, which has nearly 20,000 members, called for a three-week national lockdown.
“The serious epidemiological situation that is leading to a collapse of the health system in several states requires the immediate adoption, without any doubt, of strict restrictive measures,” the statement said.
Intensive care units in most states in the country have an occupancy rate of over 90%, although the numbers have remained stable since last week.
The Federal Supreme Court will decide later Wednesday on the reopening of religious temples across the country. Many local authorities decided to prohibit large gatherings for religious reasons despite the federal government’s decision to classify them as part of essential services.