Brazil broke its previous daily record with 4,195 deaths from Covid-19, data from the Health Ministry showed on Tuesday, marking the highest death count in the world for that 24-hour period, according to Johns Hopkins University. The new figures brought Brazil’s total death toll from the pandemic to nearly 337,000.
Additionally, nearly 87,000 new Covid-19 cases were reported across the country, bringing the total infection count to 13,100,580, according to the Health Ministry.
Bolsonaro, who has continued to downplay the severity of his country’s health crisis, played down claims that he was to blame for the country’s rising death toll. The president has repeatedly opposed the closures and restrictive measures and criticized governors and mayors in insulting language for implementing them.
“They called me homophobic, racist, fascist, torturer and now … what is it now? Now I am … someone who kills a lot of people? Genocide. Now, I am genocidal,” he told his supporters. outside the Presidential Palace in Brasilia on Tuesday night, according to a video posted on YouTube.
Several of Bolsonaro’s political opponents have accused him of “genocide,” using the term loosely to characterize the consequences of his response to Covid-19.
“What are they not blaming me for here in Brazil?” Bolsonaro asked rhetorically in the video.
The Brazilian leader appeared to hint that the pandemic was a media invention that could be solved by providing organizations with government subsidies.
“I can solve the virus problem in a few minutes. I only have to pay what the governments paid in the past to Globo, to Folha.” [de São Paulo], Or State of São Paulo, “he said, referring to a national station and two São Paulo-based newspapers. “Now, that money is not for the press, it is for other things.”
And he was defiant in his stance on the restrictions, saying he disagreed with advocates of social distancing measures and incorrectly arguing that states that imposed more stringent restrictions are experiencing higher death rates.
“Which state has blocked the most? São Paulo. Which has the highest number of deaths, proportionally? São Paulo,” he falsely stated.
Although São Paulo has the highest absolute number of deaths, it ranks 10th in deaths per capita.
About a third of the deaths reported Tuesday occurred in São Paulo, where 1,389 people died in 24 hours, state government data showed, a record for the most deaths in a single day in any Brazilian state.
That comes despite the state imposing more restrictive measures a month ago, including closing businesses that deal directly with the public, such as stores, restaurants and bars.
Bolsonaro also said blocking would be counterproductive as people would be more vulnerable to the virus.
“I saw recent research that those who have a healthy lifestyle are eight times less likely to have problems with Covid,” he said. “He locks people up at home … what does he do at home? I doubt they haven’t gained a little weight from last year to this year.”
“Even my belly grew a bit bigger,” he joked.
The record daily count comes as hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs) in some cities turn patients away and the country’s entire healthcare system is on the brink of collapse. Brazil is battling several new variants, some of which scientists believe are more contagious. Younger people appear to be getting more seriously ill than in the early stages of the pandemic, although it is unclear what role variants may play in that trend.
As of Tuesday night, 23 of the 27 federations in Brazil reported a UCI occupancy rate of 80% or more. Of these, 15 have collapsed or are about to collapse, with an ICU occupancy of over 90%. Mato Grosso do Sul is already above capacity, while only four states have an occupancy of less than 80%.
Brazil’s vaccine launch schedule has also been hit by delays.
Bolsonaro expressed interest in acquiring the Russian Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday during a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bolsonaro added that the first shot would need approval in the country.
“We are ending communications with the other [health] authorities, including Anvisa, on how we can effectively import this vaccine, “Bolsonaro said, referring to Brazil’s health regulatory agency.
Global Covid-19 cases have risen for the sixth week in a row, according to the World Health Organization’s Weekly Epidemiological Update on Tuesday. Brazil, the US, Turkey, France and India are reporting the highest number of cases.