Brazil lost its second health minister in a month on Friday after President Jair Bolsonaro demanded wider use of unproven anti-malarial drugs to fight the coronavirus outbreak, adding to turmoil in one of the pandemic’s worst global hotspots.
Brazilians banged pots from windows and health experts reacted with outrage at the resignation of Nelson Teich, the second doctor to leave the top Health Ministry job as the outbreak explodes.
Brazil’s confirmed cases climbed past Germany and France this week, growing at a daily pace second only to the United States.
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Bolsonaro had demanded on Thursday that Teich issue federal guidelines for the early use of hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus patients, despite studies that cast doubt on the effectiveness of the malaria drug for COVID-19 and raised concerns it may cause heart problems.
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“I was elected to make decisions. And the decision about chloroquine goes through me,” Bolsonaro told business leaders in a video conference on Thursday, adding that his call to end state orders on social distancing should also be the last word.
2:36Coronavirus outbreak: Brazil’s homeless face many risks amid COVID-19
Coronavirus outbreak: Brazil’s homeless face many risks amid COVID-19
“Just like a commander in battle: He has to decide.