'Sorry, some will die. That's life,' says Brazil president on coronavirus deaths

Updated: 29 March, 2020 13:42 IST | Agencies | Rio de Janeiro/Sao Paulo

Calling social distancing an exaggeration, Jair Bolsonaro accused a state governor of manipulating the numbers for political ends

Brazilian soldiers disinfect a train carriage in Central Station as a measure against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Rio de Janeiro. The country has confirmed 3,378  active cases. Pic/AFP
Brazilian soldiers disinfect a train carriage in Central Station as a measure against the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Rio de Janeiro. The country has confirmed 3,378 active cases. Pic/AFP

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday cast doubt on Sao Paulo's death toll from the coronavirus outbreak and accused the state governor of manipulating the numbers for political ends, without giving evidence for his claims. Bolsonaro's accusations were the latest broadside in an ugly battle with Brazil's governors, who have chafed at the president's view that protecting the economy takes priority over social distancing measures to combat the spread of the highly contagious virus.

Following the advice of public health experts, the vast majority of the country's 26 governors have banned non-essential commercial activities and public services to contain the outbreak in their states. "I'm sorry, some people will die, they will die, that's life," Bolsonaro said in a television interview on Friday night. "You can't stop a car factory because of traffic deaths."

Joao Doria and Jair Bolsonaro
Joao Doria and Jair Bolsonaro

Bolsonaro said that in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil's economic powerhouse, the death toll seemed "too large." Sao Paulo has the most cases and deaths so far of coronavirus in Brazil, at 1,223 cases and 68 deaths. Earlier on Friday, Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, a former Bolsonaro ally who many expect to be a rival in the 2022 presidential election, accused Bolsonaro of promoting "disinformation" by launching a TV ad campaign criticising the restrictions, featuring the slogan #BrazilCannotStop.

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First Published: 29 March, 2020 11:26 IST

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