Brazilian officials have stopped publishing data on total coronavirus fatalities in South America’s largest country after official numbers showed the third-highest death toll in the world.
Brazil's Federal Health Ministry on Friday removed a website displaying the daily, weekly and monthly total of infections and deaths by state, according to The Associated Press, which added that the site has since been restored, but now only displays totals for the previous 24 hours.
When total numbers were last published, they showed 34,000 deaths in the country and nearly 615,000 total cases, the AP noted.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has minimized the threat of the virus throughout the pandemic, tweeted Saturday that 24-hour totals would allow the government to “follow the reality of the country at this moment.”
2- A divulgação dos dados de 24 horas permite acompanhar a realidade do país neste momento e definir estratégias adequadas para o atendimento a população. A curva de casos mostram as situações como as cenários mais críticos, as reversões de quadros e a necessidade para preparação— Jair M. Bolsonaro (@jairbolsonaro) June 6, 2020
Carlos Wizard, a businessman and ally of Bolsonaro’s who is likely to be appointed to a Health Ministry post, told the newspaper O Globo that earlier numbers were “fanciful or manipulated” and that the federal government planned to conduct a review to get a “more accurate” number.
A coalition of state health secretaries strongly condemned the latest move, calling it part of Bolsonaro’s pattern of dismissing the threat and saying it would fight the change.
“The authoritarian, insensitive, inhumane and unethical attempt to make the COVID-19 deaths invisible will not prosper,” the health secretaries council said Saturday, according to the AP
“It is very difficult to make predictions that you think are reliable,” Fabio Mendes, an adjunct professor in software engineering at the federal University of Brasilia who has studied coronavirus statistics, told the AP. “We know the numbers are bad.”