Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has threatened to withdraw his country from the World Health Organization (WHO), accusing the body of being “partisan” and “political”.
Addressing the media on Friday, Bolsonaro said Brazil will consider leaving the WHO unless it stops being a “partisan political organization”.
Latin America’s most populous nations, Brazil and Mexico, are seeing the highest rates of new infections, though the pandemic is also gathering pace in countries such as Peru, Colombia, Chile and Bolivia.
During a news conference, WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said, “The epidemic, the outbreak, in Latin America is deeply, deeply concerning”.
She said that among six key criteria for easing quarantines, “one of them is ideally having your transmission declining”.
Brazil’s Health Ministry reported late on Thursday that confirmed cases in the country had climbed past 600,000 and 1,437 deaths had been registered within 24 hours, the third consecutive daily record.
As of Saturday morning, the total number of cases increased to 614,941, with 34,021 deaths.
Bolsonaro’s threat came the same day Brazil registered 1,005 deaths in a day, a record high.
Last month, US President Donald Trump had announced that Washington would also end its relationship with the WHO.
Trump first suspended funding to the UN agency a month ago and accused it of mismanaging its handling of the global pandemic.
On May 18, Trump wrote a letter to the WHO in which he mentioned,”It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world”.
President Jair Bolsonaro has fiercely criticized coronavirus stay-at-home measures, even as the number of infections and deaths continues to soar.
Earlier in May, the right-wing leader had said he was sure that Brazil would “return to normalcy” soon, even though the pandemic has aggravated in the country and according to estimates by the health ministry, would peak after a few weeks.
The President’s anger also focused mainly on Sao Paulo governor Joao Doria, and Rio de Janeiro governor Wilson Witzel, who were at the forefront of the regions hardest hit by the coronavirus and decreed “soft” quarantines in their territories.