World America 25 Mar 2020 Jair Bolsonaro spark ...

Jair Bolsonaro sparks controversy with “hysteria” comment over pandemic

AFP
Published Mar 25, 2020, 7:04 pm IST
Updated Mar 25, 2020, 7:04 pm IST
Brazil confirmed its first death and Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro declared a state of emergenc
A graffiti of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro wearing a face mask is seen on a wall while a delivery man rides a bike in downtown Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. AFP Photo
 A graffiti of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro wearing a face mask is seen on a wall while a delivery man rides a bike in downtown Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. AFP Photo

Rio De Janerio: President Jair Bolsonaro condemned what he called "hysteria" over the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday, as Brazil confirmed its first death and Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro declared a state of emergency.

Flying in the face of mounting global alarm over the pandemic, the far-right president lashed out at containment measures he said would hurt the economy.

 

"People are acting like it's the end of the world," he said in an interview with Radio Tupi.

"The economy was doing well, but now some governors are taking measures that are really going to hurt it... It's not like having groups of people here and there is the problem. What we need to do is reduce the hysteria."

Bolsonaro has sparked controversy with his response to the pandemic.

He had already drawn criticism for shaking hands and taking selfies with supporters at a rally Sunday, ignoring the recommendation of his own health ministry, which said he should remain in isolation for two weeks after being exposed to several officials who tested positive for COVID-19.

His latest comments came after the South American country confirmed its first COVID-19 fatality: a 62-year-old man with diabetes and high blood pressure who died Monday in Sao Paulo, authorities said.

"Unfortunately, this shows how severe this pandemic is, despite what some would like to believe," Sao Paulo Mayor Bruno Covas told CBN radio.

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