Brazil recorded 904 new coronavirus deaths and 27,075 new virus cases over the past 24 hours, the country’s ministry of health said Saturday, as the virus continued to ravage the South American nation.
The newly reported virus cases bring the total number of deaths Brazil has reported during the pandemic to 35,930 and the total number of reported cases to 672,846.
But Jair Bolsonaro's government has not reported official cumulative nationwide totals since Thursday June 4, the day the South American nation surpassed Italy in its reported Covid-19 fatalities. The ministry of health has instead only reported the number of cases and deaths newly recorded over the preceding 24 hours.
That move has drawn sharp criticism, with a top judge, an association of state health secretaries and the Brazilian media protesting the decision to pare down publicly available Covid-19 statistics.
Supreme Court Minister Gilmar Mendes wrote on Twitter on Saturday: "The manipulation of statistics is a maneuver made by authoritarian regimes. It’s an attempt to hide the Covid-19 numbers to reduce social control of health policies. The trick will not exempt [officials] from responsibility for an eventual genocide. #NoCensorship #DicatorshipNeverAgain"
CNN is reporting nationwide death and case totals by adding each day’s newly reported cases and deaths to the last cumulative death and case toll reported by the government. A spokesperson for Johns Hopkins University told CNN by e-mail on Saturday that its Coronavirus Resource Center map is employing the same methodology.
On Friday, a major Brazilian daily, O Globo, published an interview with the health ministry’s new secretary of science and technology, Carlos Wizard, in which he said Brazil’s health ministry will recount the country’s Covid-19 death toll, alleging that the number was “fanciful or manipulated.”
According to O Globo, Wizard said: “A lot of people died of other causes and the local health officials, solely out of their interest in having a larger budget for their municipalities, their states, were labeling every death as Covid. We are re-evaluating those deaths.”
A national council representing state health secretaries (CONASS) issued a condemnation of Wizard’s comments on Saturday.
“In saying that state health secretaries falsify data about Covid-19 deaths in a bid for a greater ‘budget,’ the secretary, in addition to showing his profound ignorance about the issue, insults the memory of all those helpless victims of this terrible pandemic and their families,” the statement said.