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Brazil's president and supporters protest lockdown as coronavirus toll climbs

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 02:04s - Published
Brazil's president and supporters protest lockdown as coronavirus toll climbs

Brazil's president and supporters protest lockdown as coronavirus toll climbs

Brazil's public health officials remain adamant that quarantines and social distancing are still needed, but President Jair Bolsonaro continues to urge his supporters to protest against them, while flouting the rules himself.

Joe Davies reports.

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With his face on their t-shirts, there can be little doubt that these Sao Paolo protesters are in support of President Bolsonaro.

They want the Brazilian economy reopened, and end to quarantines and the ability to go back to work.

In defiance of official public health advice here, the president agrees with them.

These protests have become biweekly affairs, which their leader is encouraging.

Sunday's (May 17) demonstration came a day after the number of confirmed cases of the virus in Brazil overtook Spain and Italy, making it the world's fourth-largest outbreak.

[Protester:] "This is something that shouldn't be happening at all.

The people want to work, everyone needs to be able to feed their family and they aren't letting people work.

This is an affront to the people and the good people who want to work and support their family." An opinion poll last Tuesday (May 12) showed two thirds of Brazilians agreed with the need for quarantines and social distancing, which governors and health experts recommend.

The president, though, has other ideas.

He wants to open gyms, hair salons and other businesses.

And on Sunday (May 17), he was seen posing for photographs with children plucked out of a crowd of supporters, in total disregard of public health advice.

"The federal government has given all the support to treat people who are infected with the virus and we hope that we'll soon be free of this issue.

Congratulations to all of us." This is a president who has lost two health ministers in just a month.

Both resisted his fight against quarantines.

Figures released by the health ministry here on Sunday (May 17) evening showed that almost 8,000 new cases were recorded over the previous 24 hours.

The death toll, meanwhile, rose by almost 500 to just over 16,000.

Brazil not only has a battle on its hands to defeat the virus.

It has a battle of ideas at the very top of its administration.



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