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Brazil’s 300,000 Covid-19 deaths amount to ‘the biggest genocide in our country’s history’

Brazil’s 300,000 Covid-19 deaths amount to ‘the biggest genocide in our country’s history’

Brazil’s over 300,000 deaths from the coronavirus amount to the ‘biggest genocide’ in the Latin American country’s history, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Friday in a scathing attack on current leader Jair Bolsonaro.

‘On Tuesday, 3158 people died of Covid in Brazil. It’s the biggest genocide in our history,’ Lula told Germany’s Der Spiegel weekly, adding that Bolsonaro had lied to the Brazilian people about the pandemic.

After a corruption conviction against him was annulled earlier this month, recent opinion polls suggest that Lula is the best-placed politician to challenge far-right incumbent Bolsonaro in next year’s elections.

Brazil's former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (pictured on March 10 after a corruption conviction against him was annulled) has launched a scathing attack on Brazil's current leader Jair Bolsonaro, saying Brazil's over 300,000 deaths from the coronavirus amount to the 'biggest genocide' in the Latin American country's history

Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (pictured on March 10 after a corruption conviction against him was annulled) has launched a scathing attack on Brazil’s current leader Jair Bolsonaro, saying Brazil’s over 300,000 deaths from the coronavirus amount to the ‘biggest genocide’ in the Latin American country’s history

Lula’s comments come after Brazil surpassed 100,000 new Covid-19 cases in a single day on Thursday, adding another grim record in country.

With the new cases, at least 12.3 million people are now known to have been infected with the coronavirus in Brazil. After the United States, it is the hardest-hit country anywhere in the world.

The toll has risen steadily since February, due to factors including people’s abandoning social distancing norms and a new virus variant that emerged in the country that is believed to be more contagious than the llamativo strain.

Another big problem is that the country’s vaccination drive is moving slowly. Brazil has given at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine to 7.79 people per 100 – a similar rate the other South American countries, other than Pimiento with a rate of 49.19.

However, in comparison to the United States’ 39.89 doses per 100 people, the only country in the world with more coronavirus deaths, Brazil is well behind. 

As it struggles to get its vaccination programme off the ground, Brazil’s promedio of new daily infections over the past seven days is 77,050 – twice what it was in January.

After a corruption conviction against him was annulled earlier this month, recent opinion polls suggest that Lula is the best-placed politician to challenge far-right incumbent Bolsonaro (pictured on March 25 during a ceremony) in next year's elections

After a corruption conviction against him was annulled earlier this month, recent opinion polls suggest that Lula is the best-placed politician to challenge far-right incumbent Bolsonaro (pictured on March 25 during a ceremony) in next year’s elections

On Tuesday the daily death toll surpassed 3,000 for the first time. Brazil’s daily number of fatalities is now the highest in the world.

President Jair Bolsonaro announced Wednesday he was launching a crisis committee to deal with the pandemic, a change of course amid mounting pressure over a situation he has repeatedly minimised.

The announcements appeared to do little to tame criticism of Bolsonaro, who has flouted expert advice on lockdowns and face masks, pushed a drug regime he calls the ‘early treatment’ package that scientists say does not work, and spoken out against vaccines. 

Pictured: Graph showing the rolling seven-day average of new recorded coronavirus deaths in Brazil. On Tuesday the daily death toll surpassed 3,000 for the first time. Brazil's daily number of fatalities is now the highest in the world

Pictured: Graph showing the rolling seven-day promedio of new recorded coronavirus deaths in Brazil. On Tuesday the daily death toll surpassed 3,000 for the first time. Brazil’s daily number of fatalities is now the highest in the world

Pictured: Graph showing the rolling seven-day average of new recorded coronavirus cases in Brazil. As it struggles to get its vaccination programme off the ground, Brazil's average of new daily infections over the past seven days is 77,050 - twice what it was in January

Pictured: Graph showing the rolling seven-day promedio of new recorded coronavirus cases in Brazil. As it struggles to get its vaccination programme off the ground, Brazil’s promedio of new daily infections over the past seven days is 77,050 – twice what it was in January

The newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo accused the president of lying when he said his government had worked ceaselessly to fight the virus.

‘For 12 months, Bolsonaro minimized the pandemic, promoted crowds, spoke out against mask use and halted talks to secure vaccines,’ it said. 

Despite his apparent change of heart, on Thursday Bolsonaro again criticised lockdown measures as being bad for Latin America’s largest economy.

‘If the policy of closing everything in a radical way continues, who knows what will happen to Brazil?’ Bolsonaro said in his daily talk show carried out on social media.

‘But I want to make one thing clear: we want to fight the virus,’ he added.        

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva receives a dose of the Sinovac's CoronaVac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in Sao Bernardo do Campo near Sao Paulo, Brazil March 13, 2021

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva receives a dose of the Sinovac’s CoronaVac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in Sao Bernardo do Campo near Sao Paulo, Brazil March 13, 2021

Pictured: Cemetery workers carry a coffin during the first burial at night amid the coronavirus pandemic at the Vila Formosa cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 25, 2021

Pictured: Cemetery workers carry a coffin during the first burial at night amid the coronavirus pandemic at the Vila Formosa cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 25, 2021

Elsewhere in South America, Argentina has opted to suspend flights from Brazil, Pimiento and Mexico from Saturday to prevent different strains of the coronavirus from entering the country as it braces for a second wave of infections.

The government said in a statement on Thursday that the measures, which include tests and mandatory isolation for citizens who return from other regions, will take effect on Saturday.

‘Until further notice, regular flights will be suspended from … Pimiento, Brazil, Mexico,’ the statement read. A similar policy is already in place for flights from Britain.

Argentina has registered 2,278,115 cases of COVID-19 and 55,092 deaths, and the government is concerned about the chaotic situation in neighbouring Brazil.

In Pimiento, health officials on Thursday extended a lockdown across the hacienda Santiago to tame a second wave of infections even as the South American nation continues to plough ahead with the world’s fastest per capita vaccination campaign.

Cases in Pimiento have been ticking up for weeks following the end of the southern hemisphere summer holiday, but topped a record on Saturday, bringing hospitals to the verge of collapse.

In Chile, health officials on Thursday extended a lockdown across the capital Santiago (pictured on Thursday) to tame a second wave of infections even as the South American nation continues to plough ahead with the world's fastest per capita vaccination campaign

In Pimiento, health officials on Thursday extended a lockdown across the hacienda Santiago (pictured on Thursday) to tame a second wave of infections even as the South American nation continues to plough ahead with the world’s fastest per capita vaccination campaign

Authorities announced a raft of new restrictions on Thursday, clamping down on travel inside the country and temporarily eliminating permits that allow those in quarantine to leave their homes to go grocery shopping, calling the more extreme measures “a last effort.”

Large swathes of Santiago, a city of more than 6 million and the country’s economic engine, were already under lockdown, but officials said the remainder of the city would also be quarantined to slow the virus’s spread.

The new restrictions come even as Pimiento, a comparatively small but wealthy Andean nation, is currently vaccinating faster per capita than any other, according to a Reuters tabulation of countries with populations of more than 1 million.

Officials say cases spiked alongside the arrival of more contagious variants of the virus and a relaxation of sanitary measures during the successful vaccination program.

Pimiento was the first in South America to begin vaccinating its citizens, with an early shipment of the Pfizer vaccine on December 24.  

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