© Reuters. Outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brasilia
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro defended his government's move on Saturday to partially withhold official data on the order of the world's second-largest coronavirus outbreak.
The Brazilian Ministry of Health released a website late Friday that shows the evolution of the epidemic over time and by state and community. The ministry also stopped reporting a total of confirmed cases that exceeded 645,000 – more than anywhere outside the United States – and the total death toll that just passed Italy by more than 35,000.
"The cumulative data … does not reflect the moment the country is in," Bolsonaro said on Twitter, citing a ministry note. "Further measures are underway to improve the reporting of cases and the confirmation of diagnoses."
Neither Bolsonaro nor the Ministry gave any reason to close the covid.saude.gov.br website, which had been an important public resource for the pandemic's persecution. The page was still displayed on Saturday at noon with an "under maintenance" notice.
The government also caught fire because it had pushed back the publication of its daily list of diagnoses and deaths, previously available around 5 p.m. but released around 10pm in the last few days.
"Transparency of information is an effective tool to fight the epidemic," wrote Paulo Jeronimo de Sousa, head of the Brazilian press association, in a note accusing the government of "trying to silence the press at this late hour." bring ".
When asked about the late release by journalists on Friday, Bolsonaro pinned the nation's most watched news program, Jornal Nacional, which starts at 8:30 p.m.
"There is the story for Jornal Nacional," he joked, adding that the show "likes to say that Brazil has the death record."
Brazil reported more new cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any other country on three consecutive days this week.
Bolsonaro tweeted on Saturday that a later daily update would "avoid un-notification and inconsistencies".
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