Brazil, Country Mourns Covid-19 Deaths, Amid Data Doubts

On 4 June, Brazil’s health ministry reported a record 1,473 new deaths from coronavirus (Covid-19), bringing the total number of fatalities in the country to 34,021.  
Brazil Covid-19 Deaths Eduardo Macário


Yesterday was the third consecutive day that the daily Covid-19 death toll reached a new record, with Brazil overtaking Italy as the country with the third-highest number of Covid-19 fatalities in the world. The country’s steeply rising infection curve alone is cause for concern (30,925 new cases yesterday, bringing the total to 614,941), but this is compounded by the fact that local authorities are beginning to lift lockdown measures; that President Jair Bolsonaro continues to downplay the disease; and that questions are growing over the reliability of the federal health ministry’s data.

  • Yesterday’s daily update from the federal health ministry was delayed, for the second day running. The presenter on national broadcaster TV Globo’s ‘Jornal Nacional’ prime-time evening news bulletin noted that the channel was changing its presentation of Covid-19 data as a result. It will use figures from state health secretariats on days that the federal data is not released in time for the evening news, as was the case yesterday.
  • Eduardo Macário, the health ministry’s substitute health surveillance secretary, gave no clear reason for these delays, saying “problems happen”. During a press conference yesterday, analysing the previous day’s figures, he admitted that it is “very difficult” to assess exact infection numbers.
  • Macário defended the health ministry’s efforts to reduce under-reporting and increase testing. Combining the public and private sectors, 1.08m laboratory tests (RT-PCR) have been analysed in Brazil since the start of the pandemic, an average of 8.7 tests per 1,000 inhabitants.
  • The latest official death toll, once it was announced, means that Covid-19 now claims more than one life every minute on average in Brazil, as national daily Folha de São Paulo flagged, turning its website background black as a tribute to the deceased. 
  • Speaking on Facebook before the health ministry updated Covid-19 figures, President Bolsonaro once again criticised isolation measures and spoke of reopening beaches.

Looking Ahead:

Scientists in Brazil have expressed concern with both the premature lifting of lockdown measures, and what is perceived as a growing lack of transparency over official Covid-19 data – factors which risk contributing to the worsening transmission rate.

In brief: Brazil’s industrial production plummets

* Brazil’s national statistics institute (Ibge) has released the latest figures on industrial activity, according to which industrial production fell sharply in April, by 18.8% compared with March, and by 27.2% year-on-year. This is the most pronounced fall in industrial activity since the historical series began in 2002. The Ibge’s André Macedo notes that the results in April, the second consecutive month of negative results, reflect the paralysation of production units and various segments of the industrial sector as a result of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The automotive sector was the hardest hit, with production falling 88.5% month-on-month.