Sao Paulo (CNN) – The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has ignored the criticisms that he is a “genocidal” for his opposition to the restrictions to lower the contagion of covid-19, while the country registered the deadliest 24 hours of the pandemic until the moment.
Brazil broke its previous daily record with 4,195 deaths from covid-19, data from the Ministry of Health showed on Tuesday. The figure marks the highest death count in the world for that 24-hour period, according to Johns Hopkins University. The new figures brought the total death toll from the pandemic in Brazil to nearly 337,000.
Additionally, nearly 87,000 new cases of Covid-19 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, downplayed claims that he was to blame for the country’s rising death toll. The president has repeatedly opposed confinement orders and restrictive measures, and has criticized governors and mayors with insulting language for implementing them.
«They called me homophobic, racist, fascist, torturer and now… what is it now? Now am I … someone who kills a lot of people? Genocide. Now, I am genocidal, “Bolsonaro told 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 “genocidal,” 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.
Deaths from covid-19 in Brazil
The Brazilian leader appeared to hint that the pandemic was a media invention that could be solved by providing media organizations with government subsidies.
I can solve the virus problem in a few minutes. I only have to pay what governments paid in the past to [los medios] Globo, Folha [de Sao Paulo], Or State of São Paulo ”, he said, referring to a television station that broadcasts nationwide and two newspapers from São Paulo. “Now, that money is not for the press, it is for other things.”
Bolsonaro was defiant in his stance on the restrictions, saying he disagreed with advocates of physical distancing measures and incorrectly arguing that states that imposed stricter restrictions are experiencing higher death rates.
«What is the state that has closed the most? Sao Paulo. Which one has the highest death toll, proportionally? Sao Paulo, “he falsely stated.
Although Sao 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 Sao 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 is 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 that a quarantine would be counterproductive, as people would be more vulnerable to the virus.
“I saw recent research that indicates that those who have a healthy lifestyle are eight times less likely to have problems with covid-19,” he said. «You lock people up at home… what do they 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.
Brazilian hospitals are on the brink of collapse
The daily record 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 greater than 90%. The state of 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 on Tuesday expressed interest in acquiring the Russian Sputnik V vaccine against covid-19 during a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Bolsonaro added that the vaccine would first need approval in the country.
«We are finalizing communications with the other authorities [de salud], including Anvisa, on how we can import this vaccine effectively, “said Bolsonaro, 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.