'So what?': Brazil's President shrugs off rising coronavirus threat

Brazil's President continues to downplay the effects of COVID-19 as the death toll rises.
Brazil's President continues to downplay the effects of COVID-19 as the death toll rises. Photo credit: Getty

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has sparked fury for calling coronavirus a "little flu" and scoffing at preventative measures as the country's death toll grows.

More than 5000 Brazilians have lost their lives due to COVID-19, which is now more than China, and over 74,000 people have had the virus with some experts predicting it could be a new hotspot.

 But throughout the pandemic, Bolsonaro has continued to downplay the effects of the virus.

"So what? "I'm sorry. What do you want me to do?" " Bolsonaro told journalists on Tuesday, saying he could not "work miracles".

Vox reported state governors and public health officials have tried to battle the pandemic which is threatening to overwhelm the country's health system, by putting in lockdown and social distancing measures.

But Bolsonaro has contradicted their orders saying "we'll all die one day" and attended a protest of the rules on April 19.

Brazil's President Bolsonaro talks during a protest against state governor and health official's decisions to impose lockdowns.
Brazil's President Bolsonaro talks during a protest against state governor and health official's decisions to impose lockdowns.

"I am here because I believe in you," Bolsonaro shouted.

"You are here because you believe in Brazil. We don't want to negotiate anything; what we want is action for Brazil."

Earlier in April he also fired his health minister who publicly challenged his behaviour, the Guardian reported.

Commenters have said he appears more concerned about profits from the economy running than the health of his people.

But now people are calling him out for not doing enough to stop the virus.

"Bolsonaro is not only a bad politician and a bad president, he is a despicable human being," his political opponent Marcelo Freixo tweeted.

Journalist Sônia Bridi wrote: "What? And? Five thousand dead. Five thousand. And rising fast. And a president who behaves like that. What a tragedy". 

Musician Nando Moura called him a "sociopath".

Residents in Rio de Janerio bang pots and pans in protest of President Bolsonaro's behaviour over COVID-19.
Residents in Rio de Janerio bang pots and pans in protest of President Bolsonaro's behaviour over COVID-19. Photo credit: Getty

News columnist Mariliz Pereira Jorge tweeted: "It is a scorn. It is an affront. It is unacceptable. A president CANNOT answer 'So what?' When asked about 5,000 deaths in the country he leads.

"He who chooses whether he wants to be president or ask to leave if he has no competence and much less empathy. It's your responsibility!"

But Bolsonaro's son Carlos says the media has been taking statements out of context in an attempt to destroy his reputation.

He says when the President has been sympathising with the victims they haven't taken any interest.

Brazilian cities have been struggling to keep up with the dead which are now rising to several hundred a day.

Reuters reported the city of Manaus has run out of room in intensive care units and officials warned several other cities are also experiencing problems.

They said the Manaus' main cemetery is now resorting to mass grave "trenches" where five coffins are buried at a time.

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