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ASUNCIÓN, Paraguay – Protesters clashed with police in Paraguay’s capital Asunción on Friday night as anger over the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis boiled in the streets and forced the principal’s resignation responsible for the health of the country.

Security forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas at hundreds of protesters who had gathered around the Congress building, while protesters demolished security barriers, set roadblocks ablaze and threw stones at the police.

The protests erupted amid mounting outrage as coronavirus infections reached record levels and hospitals were on the verge of collapse across Paraguay.

“It’s a shame that the young people have taken this too far. These are people who only seek to destroy, ”Interior Minister Arnaldo Giuzzio told Telefuturo television station. “This violence does not make sense.”

Earlier on Friday, Health Minister Julio Mazzoleni resigned, a day after lawmakers called for his ouster.

Mr Mazzoleni is the latest of several senior health officials across Latin America to have been forced to quit his job in recent weeks amid growing anger over the handling of the pandemic and the slow deployment of health workers. vaccinations.

To replace him, President Mario Abdo Benítez has appointed Dr Julio Borba as Deputy Minister. Mr Borba told reporters he would immediately start searching for drugs and supplies.

Paraguay has a record daily number of cases, according to a Reuters tally, with 115 infections per 100,000 people reported in the past seven days. The country has vaccinated less than 0.1% of its population, according to Reuters data.

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