President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday urged Brazilians to “stop whining” about Covid-19 and renewed his attacks on stay-at-home measures to contain the pandemic, amid a surge of cases that is pushing hospitals to the brink.
The latest controversial comments from the far-right leader, who regularly flouts expert advice on fighting the new coronavirus despite having contracted it himself last year, came after Brazil registered its second daily record of Covid-19 deaths in as many days, leading some cities and states to go back on partial lockdown.
“Stop whining. How long are you going to keep crying about it?” Bolsonaro said at an inauguration ceremony for a new railroad line in the central state of Goais.
“How long are you going to stay home? How long are you going to keep everything closed? People can’t take it anymore,” he added. “We regret the deaths…. But where’s Brazil going to end up if we just close everything?”
Nearly 260,000 people have died of Covid-19 in Brazil, the second-highest pandemic death toll in the world after the United States.
Bolsonaro’s comments came as a growing list of cities and states announced new partial lockdown measures, including the city of Rio de Janeiro and state of Sao Paulo.
The hard-hit country of 212 million people is having its deadliest week of the pandemic, with an average of more than 1,300 deaths per day over the past seven days.
An explosion of cases blamed partly on a new variant of the virus that emerged in the Amazon rainforest has filled intensive care units almost to capacity in many areas.
Bolsonaro has stoked controversy throughout the pandemic by comparing the virus to a “little flu,” railing against stay-at-home measures and face masks, joking that getting vaccinated could “turn you into an alligator,” and pushing the medication hydroxychloroquine despite studies showing it is ineffective against Covid-19.