BRASILIA – Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro compared COVID-19 on Tuesday to “a little cold” and criticized the measures put in place by state governors to stop the spread of the outbreak in the country.
“The virus arrived, we are confronting it, and it will pass shortly. Our lives have to continue, jobs should be maintained,” said the ultra-right-wing leader in a televised statement.
He again criticized the “scorched earth” measures taken by some of the country’s governors to call for mass quarantine and the closing of businesses, schools and public transport.
“What is happening in the world shows us that the risk group is people who are over 60 years old. So why close schools? The deaths of people under 40 who were healthy are few,” the president said on a day when the number of deaths in the country from the coronavirus reached 46, with 2,201 confirmed cases.
“In my particular case, with my history as an athlete, if I were infected by the virus, I wouldn’t need to worry,” Bolsonaro said. “I wouldn’t feel anything or, if very affected, it would be like a little flu or little cold.”
“Ninety percent of us will not have any symptoms if we are infected,” he said, asking Brazilians to be cautious of any symptoms so as not to transmit the virus.
According to the president, his government is taking all the necessary measures to protect the population, but without the “hysteria” and “panic” that, in his opinion, is being spread around the world by “some media.”
He also stressed that “the world is looking for a treatment for the disease” and that in Brazil and other countries “they are looking to prove the effectiveness of chloroquine,” used to treat malaria and other illnesses and about which he said there is “positive news.”
As with the last few evenings, Bolsonaro’s statement was followed by public protests on social media with people expressing their disapproval of the government’s response to the pandemic.
Bolsonaro has come under fire for his blase attitude towards the pandemic, which includes shaking hands with supporters and calling the virus a “fantasy.”