April 2nd, 2020.
Rodrigo Maia, president of Brazil’s Lower House of Congress, has accepted a challenge posed by Economy minister Paulo Guedes, and filed a bill which, if accepted, will create a “war budget”, establishing a whole new set of rules of public expenses. Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has publicly apologized for posting fake news concerning a video showing an empty Belo Horizonte food supply center, which he and his supporters tried to depict as a demonstration of a food shortage caused in Brazil by social distancing measures, but actually consisted of a daily cleaning period of the market. São Paulo governor João Dória has decided to set up a COVID-19 taskforce, and has ordered the purchase of coronavirus tests from several countries and Brazilian states, predicting a huge spike in the number of cases and deaths within the next days. Meanwhile, the Distrito Federal governor has issued a full quarantine until May 3rd, shutting down all public spaces, including religious temples and churches. Finally, US president Donald Trump said he spoke with Jair Bolsonaro on the phone, who he claimed was “extremely courteous”, and said he became aware that Brazil is facing “a great problem”.
Take a look at our highlights.
Brazil expected to approve emergency “war budget” to fight coronavirus
Rodrigo Maia, president of Brazil’s Lower House accepted the challenge posed by Economy minister Paulo Guedes, and filed a constitutional amendment bill creating a “war budget”, establishing a new set of rules for all public expenses during the state of calamity caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic. Maia officially sent the bill to Congress after Guedes responded a criticism made to his proposal of paying R$ 600 to each informal worker: “if Maia approves an emergency bill, the money will be sent within 24 hours.” The war budget proposal will remove all legal hindrances concerning public expenses, and may be applied to all actions involving the fight against COVID-19, such as hiring professionals, buying equipment, and any other disease-related public works.
Bolsonaro apologizes for fake news about food shortage
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro used his official Facebook account to apologize, after spreading fake news on Wednesday morning. Bolsonaro had posted footage of a video showing an empty Belo Horizonte food distribution center, during a cleaning interval, and used it to show how social distancing measures being encouraged by most Brazilian governors, to which he has been constantly opposed, were allegedly affecting local markets. The market’s local administration issued a statement debunking his video, and responded by saying that, despite a decrease among normal requests, supplies are completely ensured.
São Paulo sets up COVID-19 taskforce, and expects a spike in fatalities
Faced with an increase in the demand for COVID-19 diagnosis tests, São Paulo governor João Dória decided to increase the state’s testing network, which had previously been restricted to two laboratories. According to the state’s Health secretariat, 20 thousand imported testing kits will be received this week, and 10 thousand others will arrive from Rio de Janeiro, from the Osvaldo Cruz Foundation. Dória implied that the number of confirmed cases is currently far below the real one, and said that 201 samples taken from dead people were still waiting to be tested at the Adolfo Lutz Institute. The number of people proven to infected and killed by the novel coronavirus is expected to rise with a more thorough testing scheme.
DF officially decrees quarantine until May 3rd and shuts down churches
Ibaneis Rocha, the governor of Distrito Federal, where the Brazilian capital, Brasília, is located, has decreed an official quarantine until May 3rd. All public and private learning institutions are to remain closed until May 31st. According to the decree issued by the governor yesterday, all events involving public licenses, sporting, public, theater, zoos, parks, as well as any form of physical activity, will be forbidden. The opening of public spaces for cults, masses, or any form of rituals, has also been banned. The only exceptions are commercial activities which may include essential errands, such as grocery shoppings at supermarkets and drugstores, as well as industrial activities, like civil construction.
Trump: Brazil faces major coronavirus problems, I spoke with Bolsonaro
United States president Donald Trump said he had a telephone conversation with his Brazilian counterpart, Jair Bolsonaro, on Wednesday morning. When questioned about the subject during a White House press conference, the Republican Party politician said Bolsonaro was “extremely courteous”, and that Brazil is facing “a great problem” with the coronavirus pandemic. “Brazil is shut down, they weren’t going to do it, but the whole world has been shut down,” he said. Both world leaders discussed the use of hydroxychloroquine, which is yet to be approved as an effective treatment for COVID-19, and their concerns over how drug cartels might be seizing this opportunity to act while local authorities are busy with the pandemic.