Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will not attend a regional summit to address the devastating fires that affected large swaths of the Amazon Rainforest, according to government spokesman said on Monday.

The far-right president cited medical reasons for the absence, saying that doctors barred him from travelling on the eve of a surgery scheduled for next week. Doctors have also said Bolsonaro would need 10 days of rest following the operation.

The President vowed on Monday while speaking to the media, to defend his Amazon policy “even in a wheelchair” at a UN General Assembly meeting on September 24.

More than 80,000 fires have broken out in the Amazon rainforest this year.

Bolsonaro has been widely criticized by the international community for his handling of the fires, as well as for an increase in deforestation.

In response to that, Bolsonaro called for the regional summit, saying it was Latin American countries that shared the Amazon who should deal with the crisis.

Last month, tens of thousands of people took to the streets across Brazil where they started chanting “Burn Bolsonaro and not the Amazon”, in protest against President Jair Bolsonaro’s inaction in the face of massive wildfires that were devastating the world’s largest tropical rainforest.

Over the past week, the number of minors requiring treatment for respiratory ailments has tripled to 380 cases, according to the city authorities.

Environmentalists blame policies enacted by the Brazilian President for the 77 per cent increase in fires this year compared with the same period in 2018.

They said that he has encouraged cattle farmers to clear vast swathes of the rainforest since his election.