RIO DE JANEIRO — President Jair Bolsonaro is sticking with his contention that concern about the new coronavirus is overblown, and has accused Brazilian media of trying to stoke nationwide hysteria.
Bolsonaro said in a nationally televised address that the media had seized on the death toll in Italy, which he said is suffering so severely because of its elderly population and colder climate.
The president said: “The virus arrived, we are confronting it, and it will pass shortly. Our lives have to continue, jobs should be maintained.”
Bolsonaro added that certain Brazilian states should abandon their “scorched earth” policy of prohibiting public transport, closing business and schools, and calling for mass confinement at home for their residents.
As he spoke, some Brazilians who are home in self-isolation protested what they view as his blasé attitude toward the pandemic by leaning from their windows to bang pots and pans.
About 2,200 people in Brazil have been infected so far, with 46 dead.