Brazil has stopped releasing its total number of COVID-19 cases and deaths after recording an average of at least one death per minute on Thursday.
Jair Bolsonaro, the country’s president, has since been accused of censorship and an attempt to erase the memory of the dead.
As of Sunday evening, Brazil had recorded 672,846 cases of the novel coronavirus disease, making the country only second to the United States in terms of both infection and fatality.
Brazil recorded its first COVID-19 case on February 26, 2020 — a day before Nigeria recorded its first case. Nigeria has since recorded 354 deaths, while Brazil — at 35,930 — has recorded over a hundred times more fatalities.
On Thursday, Brazil recorded 1,473 coronavirus deaths, which was more than the 1,440 required to make an average of one death for every minute of that day.
At a press conference after Brazil recorded its highest death toll on record, President Bolsonaro threaten to follow in the steps of President Donald Trump, by withdrawing Brazil from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“I’m telling you right now, the United States left the WHO, and we’re studying that, in the future. Either the WHO works without ideological bias, or we leave, too,” he told journalists on Friday at the presidential palace.
According to the UK Guardian, Brazil’s government stopped releasing the total numbers of confirmed cases and deaths in its daily update bulletin.
The health ministry website with the data was taken down on Friday night and brought back less than 24 hours later without the total number of deaths and confirmed cases, as well as numbers of active cases.
The site reviewed by TheCable on Sunday night only shows daily data: 27,075 new cases were recorded on Sunday, while 904 deaths were also attributed to COVID-19.
Alberto Beltrame, president of the country’s national council of state health secretaries, rejected the decision to “falsify the data”.
“The authoritarian, insensitive, inhuman and unethical attempt to make Covid-19 invisible to the dead will not succeed,” Beltrame said.
“We and Brazilian society will not forget them, nor the tragedy that befalls the nation. It offends Secretaries, doctors and all health professionals who have tirelessly dedicated themselves to saving lives.”
Over 277,149 people have recovered from the disease in the south American country.