SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Saturday that lockdown measures used to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus “kill” and have “suffocated” the country’s economy.
“Without salaries and jobs, people die,” he said referring to restrictions imposed by some states and municipalities. “Lockdown kills,” he added, saying that some politicians have suffocated the economy with forced curfews.
The president’s statement comes as Brazil’s economy is expected to contract 6.4% this year, hit by the pandemic.
Bolsonaro, who announced he tested positive for COVID-19 on July 7, met his supporters in the grounds of his official residence, the Alvorada Palace, in Brasilia.
The president was wearing a mask and kept some meters (yards) of distance from his supporters.
Bolsonaro said he is feeling well, despite the virus, and again credited his health to the use of hydroxychloroquine to fight COVID-19, despite no scientific evidence. “I am a living proof (that the drug works),” he told supporters.
Besides hydroxychloroquine, the far-right president said he is also taking an anti-parasite drug to fight coronavirus.
Brazil registered 28,532 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 921 new deaths on Saturday, the health ministry said. Total cases in Brazil, the world’s second most affected country after the United States, have now risen to 2,074,860 while deaths totaled 78,772.
(Reporting by Carolina Mandl, in Sao Paulo, and Leonardo Benassatto, in Brasilia; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)