Brazil has reached a grim watershed in its handling of the coronavirus crisis as the country reached 100,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths Saturday, only the second country to hit a six-figure death toll and as the pandemic continues to spread throughout Brazil.
Brazil reached 100,477 deaths Saturday and just more than 3 million total cases since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Johns Hopkins University count, putting it behind only the United States in both tallies.
President Jair Bolsonaro—recently recovered from having a coronavirus infection himself—urged Brazilians to move past the damage wrought by the virus, telling the country on a broadcast this week that, “We regret all of the deaths. But let’s get on with our lives ... try to find a way of getting away with this problem,” according to a translation from The Guardian.
Former health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta railed against Bolsonaro in the press this week, saying “there are 100,000 Brazilian families who have yet to receive a single word of comfort or solidarity from the government,” in an interview with O Globo newspaper.
Bolsonaro has faced sharp criticism for referring to the deadly virus as “a little flu,” for dismissing social distancing guidelines and for diminishing the severity of the pandemic to the public.
The president earmarked $356 million this week for the country to purchase and one day produce a potential coronavirus vaccine, the AstraZeneca candidate.
One of Brazil’s most influential indigenous figures, Chief Aritana Yawalapiti, died this week of the virus, underscoring the damage the pandemic has inflicted on the country’s indigenous people in particular.
“If this was only a flu, we would not be reaching the mark of 100,000 deaths,” Leodete Martins, whose husband died of coronavirus, told The Wall Street Journal.
Brazil has the second highest number of both total confirmed coronavirus infections and deaths attributed to the virus, more than any other national except for the United States. However, experts say the actual number of cases and deaths are likely much higher. Brazil is said by experts to be especially vulnerable to the pandemic because of sweeping economic inequality as well as inequitable access to quality healthcare. It has spread rapidly in recent weeks. According to Reuters, the virus only took three months to kill 50,000 people and doubled the total in the following 50 days. Brazil accounts for nearly one-third of the world’s total confirmed coronavirus deaths.