In the heart of the Amazon rainforest, President Lula da Silva of Brazil is engaged in a high-stakes battle to save the lungs of our planet. The recent crackdown on illegal gold miners, or garimpeiros, marks a notable shift from his predecessor’s laissez-faire approach.
The Brazilian government said on Sunday that 366 deaths were reported over the past 24 hours, bringing to 120,828 the national death toll of coronavirus.
According to the health ministry, a total of 3,862,311 cases have been reported, up by 16,158 cases from the previous day.
The country of 212 million people has now registered 120,262 deaths from the virus and 3,846,153 infections, the health ministry said in its daily update.
Brazil is just the second country to surpass a death toll of 120,000 in the pandemic, after the United States, where the number killed is now more than 182,000.
Earlier this month, President Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, Army General Walter Souza Braga Netto had tested positive for the virus.
Last month, Bolsonaro himself tested positive for the virus spending three weeks in quarantine. Eight of his cabinet ministers and 11 of Brazil’s 27 governors, including Doria, have also tested positive.
His wife, First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro and the country’s Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Marcos Pontes were also infected.
Unlike in Europe and Asia, where the virus hit hard and then subsided, Brazil’s outbreak is advancing at a slow but devastating pace, said Christovam Barcellos, a researcher at public health institute Fiocruz.
Brazil confirmed its first case of the virus on February 26, a Sao Paulo businessman returning from a trip to Italy. It recorded its first death on March 16.
The pandemic soon turned political in Latin America’s largest country.
President Bolsonaro condemned the “hysteria” around the virus, and attacked governors and mayors who imposed lockdown measures, arguing the economic damage would be worse than the disease itself.