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Brazilian Bolsonaro says ‘no national lockdown’ despite record Covid deaths

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Wednesday there would be “no national lockdown”, ignoring growing calls from health experts a day after the country saw its highest death toll of Covid-19 in 24 hours since the start of the pandemic.

Brazil’s health ministry recorded 4,195 deaths on Tuesday, becoming the third country to exceed the threshold as Bolsonaro’s political opponents demanded tougher measures to slow the spread of the virus.

“We are not going to accept this policy of staying home and shutting everything down,” said Bolsonaro, resisting the pressure in a speech in the town of Chapeco, in the state of Santa Catarina. “There will be no national lockdown.”

Brazil’s conservative president has also defended the use of so-called early treatment protocols, which include the antimalarial drug, hydroxychloroquine. No scientific study has found the drug effective in preventing or treating Covid-19.

“There are not enough vaccines in the world today. We have to find alternatives, ”he said.

The number of deaths in Chapeco linked to the virus finally fell after very difficult weeks. Intensive care units had exceeded capacity, forcing authorities to transfer infected patients to hospitals in other states.

Last month, the city implemented some restrictions on the economy for two weeks, but Bolsonaro attributed Chapeco’s recent success to the use of early treatment protocols, the Estadão newspaper reported.

In an open letter published Tuesday in the newspaper O Globo, the Brazilian Association of Collective Health, which has nearly 20,000 members, called for a three-week national lockdown.

“The serious epidemiological situation which is leading to the collapse of the health system in several states requires the immediate adoption, without hesitation, of strict restrictive measures,” the statement said.

Intensive care units in most Brazilian states have an occupancy rate of over 90%, although the numbers have been stable since last week.

The Supreme Court rules today on the reopening of religious buildings across the country. Many local authorities have decided to ban large religious gatherings despite the federal government’s decision to label them as essential services.

“There is no Christianity without community life”, pleaded Wednesday the Solicitor General of Brazil André Mendonça, evangelical pastor, before the Supreme Court. “True Christians are never ready to kill for their faith, but they are always ready to die to guarantee freedom of religion and worship.”

Preliminary results from an ongoing study of 67,700 healthcare workers in Manaus, where a more contagious variant of Covid-19 has been detected this year, appear to confirm earlier findings that China’s Sinovac vaccine is effective against the virus. . The press release published on Wednesday mentioned an efficacy rate of 50% after the administration of only one of the two doses of the vaccine.

The study has not yet been published or peer reviewed. Several health experts consulted by The Associated Press said it was not possible to properly assess the preliminary results without having access to the study’s methodology and full results, but all agreed that it was promising.

The study involves researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine, Yale School of Public Health, and the state-run Fiocruz Institute in Brazil, among other institutions.

In its own preliminary study, the Butantan Institute in Sao Paulo also found in March that the vaccine was effective against the P1 variant.

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