Saturday, July 24

Brazil: in the midst of a health disaster, Jair Bolsonaro appoints a new Minister of Health

The statement, posted on social media, is unusually cold and sober. “I invited the current president of the Brazilian Society of Cardiology (SBC), Marcelo Queiroga, to take the position Minister of Health “, announced, Monday, March 15, Jair Bolsonaro on Twitter and Instagram, around 9 p.m. in Brasilia.

Is it the gravity of the moment that pushed the turbulent head of state to more restraint? A sign of the turbulent times the country is going through, Mr. Queiroga is nothing less than the fourth Minister of Health appointed by Jair Bolsonaro since the start of the pandemic. “From now on, we are moving to a more aggressive phase in the fight against the virus”, launched the Head of State, while the number of victims of the epidemic in Brazil now exceeds 280,000.

Main focus of Covid-19

For the new minister, the mission promises to be difficult, if not impossible. Far from stagnating or declining as elsewhere, the epidemic is now totally out of control in Brazil. The number of daily deaths now exceeds that of the United States (up to 2,841 deaths for March 16 alone) and the country is the main focus of Covid-19 on the planet. The cemeteries are full of corpses to be buried and the hospitals totally saturated with the sick. Intensive care occupancy rates exceed 80% in 19 of the country’s 26 states.

In the confusion, each region adopted its own restrictive measures. In Sao Paulo, the economic heart of Latin America, a curfew is now in place, non-essential activities are closed. But nothing seems to be able to slow down the funeral march of the epidemic and its “Amazonian variant”, reputed to be more lethal and above all more contagious. As of March 15, only 10 million Brazilians had already received their first dose of the vaccine, barely 4.8% of the population.

Read also Covid-19 in the world: Brazil sinks into the health crisis with alarming new figures

“The forecasts give up to between 500,000 and 600,000 dead by the end of 2021. We are on the verge of collapse”, alarms José Paulo Guedes Pinto, professor at the Federal University of ABC (Sao Paulo) and coordinator of the interdisciplinary research group Action Covid-19, who adds: “The government is lost, helpless. He no longer has a choice and today turns to competent doctors. “

Competence is precisely what was sorely lacking in the outgoing minister, General Eduardo Pazuello, 58 years old. Appointed in May 2020, this former coordinator of the Brazilian army’s humanitarian operation towards Venezuelan refugees was nevertheless renowned as an unparalleled “logistics expert”. Aggressive, rough, he will however have embodied until the end the wanderings and excesses of power in the face of the crisis linked to Covid-19. His nickname in Brazil says it all: Pazuello, the “Pesadelo”. “Nightmare”, in Portuguese.

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www.lemonde.fr

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