Brazilian government has erased all the data regarding the COVID-19 from the official website https://covid.saude.gov.br/ . The facts and figures about cases and deaths due to coronavirus have been wiped.
Health ministry insider, talking to local media, told that they took the step on the direct orders of the President, Jair Bolsonaro, himself. President’s orders considered widespread outrage, the reason behind the step. Brazil is one of the worst COVID-19 hotspots.
There are over 672,846 confirmed coronavirus cases in Brazil. Out of which more than 35,930 have died, according to John Hopkins University.
On Friday, Brazilian government stopped releasing COVID-19 data on website. Instead, daily numbers are released in bulletin. Health ministry site went offline on Friday. The site again returned on Saturday without total death numbers, confirmed cases and cases under investigation. Also, the stats of recovered patients didn’t show up again.
Alberto Beltrame, president of Brazil’s national council of state health secretaries, said “the authoritarian, insensitive, inhuman and unethical attempt to make those killed by Covid-19 invisible will not succeed. We and Brazilian society will not forget them, nor the tragedy that befalls the nation.”
Doctors, medical organizations and Brazilian society opposed the step. They called it an “attempt to control information.”
The Federal prosecutors ordered to investigate this move on Saturday and gave interim health minister 72 hours to explain the matter. This is against the Brazilian constitution and freedom of information law.
“The manipulation of statistics is a manoeuvre of totalitarian regimes,” a tweet from Gilmar Mendes, a Supreme Court judge, said. “The trick will not exempt responsibility for the eventual genocide,” said Rodrigo Maia, speaker of the lower house of Congress.
Paulo Câmara, governor of the north-eastern state of Pernambuco, commented that science, transparency and action are must to overcome the pandemic. He said that manipulation, omission and disrespect are signs of authoritarian administrations. He supported continuing releasing the data argument.
Health ministry problems:
Brazil has no health minister at present. Two of the health ministers have resigned since the start of the pandemic. An army general, named Eduardo Pazuello is the current temporary health minister. He has no experience regarding health issues.
Carlos Wizard, a billionaire Mormon businessman, is has the charge of secretary of science, technology and strategic supplies at the health ministry. Experts consider him unsuitable due to lack of experience. On Friday, he said that the current data is “fanciful or manipulated”.
“There are many people dying for other causes and public managers, purely interested in having bigger budgets for their towns, their states, were putting everybody as COVID-19. We are revising these obits,” he said.
The Bottom Line:
Many states in Brazil are slowly reopening, allowing shops and businesses to continue activities. This may impose more pressure on the health system.
But this can be dangerous. Managing transitions requires accurate data, commented Alberto Chebabo, an infectious diseases specialist at Rio de Janeiro’s Federal University hospital and vice-president of the Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases.
“We have room in intensive care … but the hospital still has many patients,” he said. “Many decisions are taken on basis of these numbers not just in Brazil, but in whole world … It is an inadmissible lack of transparency.”