Brazil’s Bolsonaro ‘washing hands’ of COVID-19, says governor

SAO PAULO (AFP) – The leader at the epicentre of Brazil’s COVID-19 battle said President Jair Bolsonaro is “washing his hands” of COVID-19, and he does not mean that in the “Safe Hands Challenge” kind of way.

Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, a former ally of the far-right president, is the man running the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the hardest-hit place in Latin America, his home state.

Sao Paulo state, a teeming industrial centre with roughly the same population as Spain, has registered three-quarters of the 77 deaths from COVID-19 in Brazil, where the total number of confirmed cases is nearing 3,000. Adding to his daily challenges, he is dealing with a President who regularly attacks him for following World Health Organization guidelines on closing businesses and telling people to stay home in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.

Bolsonaro said there is no need for such “scorched-earth” policies, which he warns will wreck the economy in the name of stopping a disease he has compared to “a little flu”. In an interview with AFP, Doria, a 62-year-old conservative touted as a likely contender to face Bolsonaro in Brazil’s 2022 Presidential election, said the President’s response to the pandemic has left the country with a leadership void.