Brazil’s Bolsonaro: ‘We’re All Going to Die,’ Take Coronavirus ‘like a Man’

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures during the International Youth Day celebration at Planalto Palace in Brasilia on August 16, 2019. - Bolsonaro criticized a possible victory of Presidential candidate for the Frente de Todos (Front for All) party Alberto Fernandez in the upcoming elections in Argentina. (Photo by EVARISTO SA …

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro once again played down the threat posed by the Chinese coronavirus on Sunday, urging people to take it “like a man” and return to normality as quickly as possible.

Bolsonaro is perhaps the only major world leader to be seemingly unconcerned by the virus, appearing far more concerned about the economic impact than the number of casualties.

“The virus is here, we’re going to have to confront it. Confront it like a man, not a boy!” Bolsonaro told supporters outside the presidential palace on Sunday. “We’re all going to die one day.”

In various videos posted to his Twitter account over the weekend, the 65-year-old was filmed warning people about the economic damage caused by a continued quarantine.

“What I have been hearing from people is that they want to work,” he tells a street vendor in one video. “What I have said from the beginning is that ‘we are going to be careful, the over-65s stay at home.’ We just can’t stand still, there is fear because if you don’t die of the disease, you starve.”

In another video, he also calls for a return to “normality,” expressing his opposition to lockdown measures imposed by governors and mayors, in a bid to contain its spread, by arguing that Brazil could turn into the economic basket case that socialist Venezuela has become.

“If it continues like this, with the amount of unemployment what we will have later is a very serious problem that will take years to be resolved,” he said. “Brazil cannot stop or we’ll turn into Venezuela.”

Having described the virus as a “little flu” and the global reaction as a form of “hysteria,” last week Bolsonaro used his own executive powers to declare places of worship (primarily churches) “essential services,” meaning like supermarkets and pharmacies it is exempt from quarantine measures.

According to a report from the Estado de São Paulo newspaper citing anonymous sources, Bolsonaro told his Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta that he would fire him if he publicly criticized his approach. The warning allegedly came after Mandetta tried to convince Bolsonaro of the negative publicity should the situation escalate.

“Are we ready for the worst-case scenario, with army trucks transporting bodies through the streets?” asked Mandetta according to the anonymous sources. “And cameras livestreaming that on the internet?”

As of Sunday evening, Brazil’s Health Ministry had reported 3,904 confirmed cases and 114 deaths related to the coronavirus. A study by Imperial College London forecasted that more than one million Brazilians could die from the coronavirus if no action is taken, over half a million if only elderly people were forced to isolate as Bolsonaro has suggested, and around 45,000 if drastic measures are implemented.

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