Brazilian President Echoes Trump As He Downplays Coronavirus

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - MARCH 25: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks with press at the official residence during the coronavirus  (COVID - 19) pandemic at the Palacio do Alvorada March, 25, 2020 in Brasilia, Brazil. President Bolsonaro recently defended the nation's return to normality and the end of social distancing and quarantine. (Photo by Andressa Anholete / Getty Images)
BRASILIA, BRAZIL - MARCH 25: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures during a press conference amidst the coronavirus (COVID - 19) pandemic at the Palacio do Alvorada March, 25, 2020 in Brasilia, Brazil. Bolsona... BRASILIA, BRAZIL - MARCH 25: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gestures during a press conference amidst the coronavirus (COVID - 19) pandemic at the Palacio do Alvorada March, 25, 2020 in Brasilia, Brazil. Bolsonaro recently defended the nation's return to normality and the end of social distancing and quarantine. According to the Ministry of health, as today, Brazil has 2271 confirmed cases infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and at least 47 recorded deceases. (Photo by Andressa Anholete / Getty Images) MORE LESS

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.

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