Brazil’s next Minister of Health – the country’s fourth since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – has said he intends to continue the work of his predecessor in implementing the President’s policy. far right Jair Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro, who faces increasing pressure and public anger over his government’s handling of the crisis, ad Monday that cardiologist Dr Marcelo Queiroga would take the post of Minister of Health.
Brazil has seen an increase in the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in recent weeks, as the health ministry said on Tuesday that 2,841 more deaths were reported in the past 24 hours – a new record in one day – as well as 83,926 new infections.
Brazil has reported 11.5 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 279,000 deaths to date, according to data from Johns Hopkins University – the second highest total in the world.
Queiroga will succeed Eduardo Pazuello, a general who had been criticized for his lack of experience in public health and his monitoring of the crisis.
“Minister Pazuello has worked hard to improve health conditions in Brazil and I was invited by President Bolsonaro to continue this work,” Queiroga said on Tuesday, as he arrived for his first meeting at the ministry.
He said the minister was there to implement the health policies set by the president.
Queiroga is expected to be officially appointed to the post on Wednesday, but he has already met with Pazuello to start discussing the transition.
Queiroga also said lockdowns are not the way to bring the growing pandemic under control, echoing Bolsonaro, who has avoided public health restrictions despite calls from local and regional leaders for tougher measures.
The governor of the state of Sao Paulo, for example, imposed a two-week lockdown this month in an attempt to curb the potential spread of the virus, despite threats to cut federal funding.
The lockdowns have prompted some Brazilians to demonstrate in recent days.
Meanwhile, Pazuello said on Monday that Brazil had ordered 100 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 38 million from Johnson & Johnson, as it negotiated for 13 million doses of the vaccine from Moderna Inc.
Bolsonaro also said this week that Brazil “is entering a more aggressive phase in the fight against the virus”.
Geraldo Monteiro, a political scientist at Rio de Janeiro State University, said that despite his recent comments, Bolsonaro’s beliefs remain the same.
“It’s more of a strategic retreat due to pressure from some of its political allies, especially in parliament, because the pandemic is out of control,” Monteiro told AFP news agency.
This pressure has increased since a Brazilian Supreme Court judge last week canceled corruption convictions against former left-wing president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, opening the door for him to run for president next year.
Lula, who has received a COVID-19 hit over the weekend, criticized Bolsonaro for the surge in coronavirus-related deaths and infections.
“Don’t follow that fool,” he Told his supporters last week.
A recent poll showed that 61% of Brazilians disapprove of Bolsonaro’s handling of the crisis, AFP said.
“The hope of a change of course lies in electoral pressure, the only thing that has an effect on Bolsonaro”, we read Tuesday in an editorial in the daily O Estado de S Paulo.