brazil coronavirusbrazil coronavirus

Passengers wearing protective face masks travel on a public bus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on April 29, 2020.

Ricardo Moraes/Reuters


  • With more than 13,000 deaths and over 190,000 confirmed cases, Brazil is emerging as the world’s new coronavirus hotspot.
  • While the first infections were spotted in the richer neighborhoods of large cities, the virus has since been spreading rampantly in the country’s favelas.
  • But as hospitals and morgues in the country are becoming overwhelmed, its president, Jair Bolsonaro, continues to downplay the threat of the virus, dismissing it as a “little flu.”
  • While anti-lockdown protests have emerged, others have been very critical of the Brazilian president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, staging protests and voicing outrage on social media.
  • Despite the growing coronavirus cases, Brazil is currently not under a nation-wide lockdown. But some individual state governors have gone against Bolsonaro’s orders and imposed their own measures.
  • Scroll down to see photos of what it’s like in the country, which is expected to become one of the worst-hit coronavirus places in the world.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

With the sixth-worst death toll in the world, Brazil has emerged as the new coronavirus hotspot.

Brazil’s hospitals, morgues, and cemeteries has been grappling with a rising number of coronavirus cases, which were first brought into the country by people traveling back from Europe and the US in February. 

But despite growing concern that the country will record thousands of more deaths from the virus, its president — Jair Bolsonaro — never imposed a nation-wide lockdown.

Bolsonaro continues to downplay the threat of the virus, attending anti-lockdown protests and starting feuds with state governors, who have gone against his orders by individually issuing partial lockdowns.

Photos show what it’s like in Brazil as its rapidly becoming one of the worst-hit countries from the coronavirus in the world.

While some countries are starting to lift lockdown measures after seeing a drop in coronavirus cases, Brazil is quickly emerging as the world’s new hotspot.

A collective burial of people that have passed away due to the coronavirus disease (COVID 19), is seen at the Parque Taruma cemetery in Manaus, Brazil April 23, 2020..JPG

A mass burial of people that have passed away due to the coronavirus disease at the Parque Taruma cemetery in Manaus, Brazil, on April 23, 2020.

Bruno Kelly/Reuters


The World Health Organization (WHO) said last week that the Americas are currently at the center of the pandemic, according to the BBC.

Source: BBC

The South American country recorded its deadliest day from the virus on May 12 and now has more than 190,000 cases — a number which is likely to be a lot higher.

brazil coronavirus

A healthcare worker transports the body of a person to a refrigerated truck at the Evandro Freire hospital in Rio de Janeiro on April 28, 2020.

Ricardo Moraes/Reuters


Experts say that the actual number of cases is probably 15 times higher than what has been reported due to the lack of testing in the country, according to the BBC.

Domingo Alves from the University of Säo Paulo Medical School told the broadcaster: “Brazil is only testing people who end up in the hospital. It’s hard to know what’s really happening based on the available data.”

“We don’t have a real policy to manage the outbreak,” he added.

Source: Wordometer, BBC

The virus appears to have been brought into the country by people who traveled to Europe and the US during public holidays in February.

FILE PHOTO: People wear protective face masks after Rio de Janeiro's mayor decreed using masks in public places following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 20, 2020. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

People walk in Rio de Janeiro on March 24, 2020.

Reuters


Source: The Guardian

But while the country saw a spike in infections, it still went ahead with its annual Carnival celebration. At this point, the coronavirus had already spread to 20 countries.

brazil carnival parade coronavirus

The Academicos do Salgueiro Samba School performance during the 2020 Rio de Janeiro Carnival champions’ parade at the Sapucai Sambadrome on February 29, 2020.

Bruna Prado/Getty Images


Source: The Guardian

Many of the early infections were seen in rich neighborhoods of large cities, including Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro. But it only took a few weeks before the virus made its way to Brazil’s poorest areas — the favelas.

brazil coronavirus

Clean workers disinfect Vidigal slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on April 24, 2020.

Pilar Olivares/Reuters


Wallace Pereira, a community leader in Rocinha — the largest favela in Brazil — told the Guardian: “We’re facing a public disaster here. People are getting sick and they have nowhere to go.”

“The situation is getting worse because many people are going around saying: ‘This virus won’t get me’ – which is a fantasy,” Pereira added. 

Source: The Guardian

With cramped homes, large households, and few public parks, social isolation is very difficult in many of the country’s favelas.

brazil coronavirus

A woman receives a box with food donations organized by NGO Kapadocia Institute for poor families from Capadocia Slum at Brasilandia district in Sao Paulo on May 1, 2020.

Amanda Perobelli/Reuters


Another problem in the favelas seems to be a lack of awareness. 

Rene Silva, the director of the Voz das Comunidades newspaper which produced for and by people in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, told The Independent: “[People in the favelas] don’t think that coronavirus is something serious.”

“They think this is a disease for rich people, that is something from abroad that won’t affect them,” Silva added.

Source: The Independent

Hospitals, morgues, and cemeteries across the country have been overwhelmed with the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

brazil coronavirus

Patients suffering from the coronavirus disease are treated at a field hospital set up at a sports gym, in Santo Andre, Sao Paulo on May 6, 2020.

Amanda Perobelli/Reuters


Meanwhile, President Jair Bolsonaro has consistently downplayed the threat of the virus, calling it a “little flu,” and publicly dismissing quarantine and social distancing measures.

jair bolsonaro brazil coronavirus

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro wearing a protective mask at a national flag hoisting ceremony in front of the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia on May 12, 2020.

Adriano Machado/Reuters


Bolosonaro never imposed a nation-wide lockdown, but city mayors and state governors have individually taken steps to close schools, universities, and businesses and restrict movement.

brazil coronavirus

Passengers wearing protective face masks travel on a public bus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on April 29, 2020.

Ricardo Moraes/Reuters


Public officials have been under increasing pressure to further clamp down with lockdown measures, as the situation seems to be getting worse in the country.

Miguel Lago, executive director of Brazil’s non-profit Institute for Health Policy Studies, told the Associated Press that mandatory lockdowns across much of the country would help.

“We need to avoid a total disaster. It is late in terms of avoiding hospital collapse, but certainly, it isn’t too late to avoid a bigger catastrophe,” Lago said.

Source: Associated Press

However, most governors and mayors have not yet imposed mandatory stay-at-home orders.

brazil coronavirus

A woman wearing a protective face shield walks along the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro on April 29, 2020.

Pilar Olivares/Reuters


Source: CNN

Some people have opposed the lockdowns, taking to the streets of Brasilia to demand that restrictions on movement introduced to stop the spread of coronavirus be lifted.

brazil coroanvirus

Supporters of far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro take part in a motorcade to protest against social distancing and quarantine measures in Sao Paulo on May 3, 2020.

Amanda Perobelli/Reuters


Some protesters attending the rally also held up signs calling for the shut-down of Brazil’s Congress and the Supreme Court, while others said they wanted the military to take over the handling of the pandemic, according to the BBC.

Source: BBC

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On different occasions, they have been joined by Bolsonaro, who told the protestors they were “patriots” for defending their individual freedoms.

Bolsonaro Brazil protest lockdown

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro attends his supporters during a protest in favor of the government and and against the lockdown in front of the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on May 3, 2020.

Andre Borges/NurPhoto via Getty Images


Source: BBC

But Bolsonaro has also been heavily criticized. Nurses and doctors have staged several protests against the deaths of their colleagues and state governors have ignored his orders.

brazil coronavirus

Nurses lie on the ground with signs bearing the names of healthcare professionals who died from the coronavirus during a protest in Brasilia on May 12, 2020.

Adriano Machado/Reuters


Bolsonaro’s popularity has suffered since the crisis began, with his disapproval rating rising to more than 55% from 47% in January, according to a new survey released in the Guardian.

This week the Brazilian president said that beauty salons, gyms, and barbers can “re-open” as they should be treated as “essential services” — a decree that was ignored by several state governors, who worry that the situation is only getting worse. 

Rio de Janeiro governor, Wilson Witzel tweeted on Tuesday, May 12: “Bolsonaro is walking toward the precipice and wants to take all of us with him.”

Davi Alcolumbre, the head of Brazil’s Senate, previously said the country needs “serious, responsible leadership” in times like this, according to the BBC.

Both sides have threatened to take their fight to court.

Source: The Guardian

With more than 13,000 COVID-19 deaths at the time of writing, Brazil is now the sixth worst-affected country in the world in terms of recorded deaths.

Women react during a collective burial of people that have passed away due to the coronavirus disease (COVID 19), at the Parque Taruma cemetery in Manaus, Brazil April 28, 2020. .JPG

Women react during a collective burial of people that have passed away due to the coronavirus disease at the Parque Taruma cemetery in Manaus on April 28, 2020.

Bruno Kelly/Reuters


Source: John Hopkins University 

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