SAO PAULO | Truncated and increasingly late assessments, divergent figures: data on deaths and cases of contamination of the coronavirus have been released for several days in the most total confusion by the Brazilian government, causing an avalanche of criticism.
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Denouncing a “statistical coup”, the daily Folha de S. Paulo accuses Monday in a virulent editorial of the far right president Jair Bolsonaro of wanting to “stifle” the data of the Covid-19, “as if he could censor them. “
In open war with the media, the Head of State has rightly justified his intention to disseminate the data after the main television news: “there will be no more subject (on the official figures) at Jornal Nacional”, a he said on Friday evening, quoting the TV news from TV Globo.
President Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the pandemic, calling it a “little flu” and calling for the resumption of economic activity while the curves are on the rise, with more than 36,000 deaths.
For the past week, the official report of the Ministry of Health, which was made public at 5:00 p.m. at the start of the health crisis, has only been sent to the press around 10:00 p.m.
And since last Friday, the bulletin no longer shows the total number of confirmed cases and deaths, presenting only the figures for the last 24 hours.
“Worthy of totalitarian regimes”
Worse still, Carlos Wizard, a business man approached to occupy a high-level post in the ministry, had announced Friday evening to the newspaper O Globo that the official balance sheet was going to be revised down due to “fanciful and manipulated” figures. .
A statement that outraged the regional health authorities responsible for compiling the data, who lambasted “an authoritarian, inhuman and unethical attempt to make the coronavirus dead invisible”.
Wizard denied on Saturday any plans to revise the figures already announced and ended up giving up his job at the ministry on Sunday after calls on the internet to boycott his businesses.
“The manipulation of statistics is a maneuver worthy of totalitarian regimes,” said Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes on Twitter on Saturday.
“This trick will not clear (the government) of the responsibility for a possible genocide,” he added, accompanying his message with the keywords #CensuraNao (not censorship) and #DitaduraNuncaMais (never again dictatorship).
On Sunday evening, a first report of the government sent to the press reported 1,382 deaths in 24 hours, but another published shortly after only posted 525 deaths.
The Ministry of Health did not provide an explanation until midday on Monday, justifying this large discrepancy by an error in entering the new deaths recorded by the state of Roraima (north).
“The deliberate confusion of data (…) is a lack of respect for citizens and also reveals the authoritarian nature of the government,” said Monday’s daily editorialist O Globo Miriam Leitao, who called any manipulation of the figures a “crime”. officials.
“From the point of view of health, it is a tragedy that we are witnessing (…) Not informing means that the state is more harmful than the virus”, launched for his part the former Minister of Health of M. Bolsonaro, Luiz Henrique Mandetta. He had been sacked in April after expressing his disagreements with him on the fight against the pandemic.
For several weeks, the Ministry of Health had presented on its official website the daily report with a specious graphics: large characters for the figures of recovered people, and much smaller characters for that of the dead.
“This amounts to creating a parallel reality, as if the Titanic company said:” We have saved so many people “, declared to AFP Tomas Traumann, former communication secretary of the left government of Dilma Rousseff (2011- 2016).