Brazil's Bolsonaro slams quarantine, says jobs being lost

March 31, 2020 09:44
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said all measures to combat the coronavirus crisis in the country could cost 800 billion reais (US$154 billion). Photo: Reuters

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro said there can be no more quarantine measures imposed on the country than those already in place to combat coronavirus because jobs are being destroyed and the poor are suffering disproportionately, Reuters reports.

Speaking to Rede TV on Monday, Bolsonaro criticized self-isolation and other measures imposed by local authorities to limit the spread of the virus, a view that again appeared to put him at odds with Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mendetta.

Mendetta on Monday urged Brazilians to maintain maximum social distancing to ease the strain on the fragile health system and said that 200 million personal protective equipment items would be arriving from China next month.

“You can’t impose any more quarantine than there already is,” Bolsonaro said, adding that the question people ask him most is when can they return to work.

Brazil’s Senate passed a bill on Monday night guaranteeing some of the country’s poorest citizens income of 600 reais (US$117) a month for three months, a package that could cost almost 50 billion reais.

According to Bolsonaro, all measures to combat the crisis could cost 800 billion reais, and the economy, which is expected to contract this year, could rebound and be back on track within a year.

Earlier on Monday, Bolsonaro had stepped up his stand-off with state governments, branding governors in the hardest-hit states “job-killers” and suggesting that democracy could be at risk if the coronavirus crisis leads to social chaos.

“When the situation is heading toward chaos, with mass unemployment and hunger, it’s fertile ground for some to exploit, seeking a way to reach power and never leave it,” Bolsonaro told reporters outside the presidential palace.

Bolsonaro last week warned that Brazil could break with “democratic normalcy”, citing the risk of rioting and suggesting “the left” could capitalize on any chaos, without elaborating.

The coronavirus outbreak has so far resulted in 4,579 confirmed cases and 159 deaths in Brazil.

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