Sao Paulo, Apr 7 (efe-epa).- Brazil continues to set grim records for the impact of coronavirus, with 4,195 deaths in the latest 24-hour period, and President Jair Bolsonaro’s response has been to shift from denying the seriousness of Covid-19 to labeling it on Wednesday as “practically impossible” to eradicate.
The virus has now claimed nearly 337,000 lives in Brazil. Only the United States, with more than 552,000 fatalities, has been hit harder by the pandemic.
The US, a nation of 330 million people, has 30.5 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, compared with 13 million in Brazil, which is home to around 210 million.
Over the last seven days, Brazil’s death toll has grown by nearly 19,000, while the US has seen roughly 7,000 additional deaths.
“This virus, like others, came to stay, and it will remain for the rest of our lives,” Bolsonaro said Wednesday during a visit to a town in the southern state of Santa Catarina.
“The virus will not leave … it is practically impossible to eradicate it,” the right-wing president said of an illness that he spent months dismissing as a “measly flu.”
In Sao Paulo state, Brazil’s wealthiest and most-populous jurisdiction, close to 90 percent of beds in hospital intensive care units are currently filled with Covid-19 patients.
“Don’t read fake news and don’t accept recommendations, observations or grandiose claims from those who are notoriously denialist,” Sao Paulo Gov. Joao Doria said Wednesday, alluding to Bolsonaro.
Doria, a conservative, originally supported Bolsonaro but broke with the chief executive over his handling of the pandemic and has emerged as a potential challenger to the incumbent in next year’s presidential contest.
The governor has defied Bolsonaro, imposing pandemic restrictions in Sao Paulo state and bypassing Brasilia to enter into an arrangement with China’s Sinovac Biotech to obtain vaccines.
“We are facing the most serious global health crisis in history,” Doria said Wednesday.
The Brazilian inoculation effort is moving slowly. Since the start of injections on Jan. 17, 18.2 million people have received one of the two required doses, while just 5.2 million are fully vaccinated.
The vast majority of people who have gotten the shot are health care workers, members of the police and military and senior citizens. EFE nbo-ag/dr