Brazil’s top court confirms probe into Bolsonaro’s Covid-19 response as richest state warns of ‘imminent’ healthcare collapse

Brazil’s Supreme Court upheld an earlier decision by one of its judges that its Senate should investigate the handling of Covid-19 pandemic by the federal government of Jair Bolsonaro amid a surge in cases across the country.

The probe was initially ordered by Justice Luis Roberto Barroso last week after a request from the lawmakers. Wednesday’s ruling by the Supreme Court judges means that a special Senate committee will now examine the actions of the Brazilian government during the country’s coronavirus outbreak. 

The probe is going to look into decision making and distribution of funds to states and municipalities. It will be up to the senators to figure out if the investigation will be carried out in-person or virtually.

Bolsonaro’s opponents have harshly criticized his response to Covid-19, with the president being blamed for downplaying the severity of the disease, not doing enough to enforce social distancing measures and being unable to organize an effective vaccine rollout.

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In recent weeks, Brazil has been consistently reporting one of the world’s highest daily coronavirus-related death tolls. With more than 13.6 million confirmed cases and over 385,000 fatalities so far, the country only trails the US in the number of deaths from Covid-19.

Another sign of the deteriorating epidemiological situation was the letter that Sao Paulo’s Health Secretary, Jean Gorinchteyn, addressed to the federal government on Wednesday. The document, which was seen by Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, warned that Brazil’s richest and most populous state was running out of key meds for its coronavirus patients.

“The supply situation regarding drugs, mainly neuromuscular blockers and sedatives, is very serious,” Gorinchteyn reportedly wrote in the letter. “Collapse is imminent.” The official later confirmed the authenticity of the letter, telling the journalists that “we [Sao Paulo] need the federal government to help us.”

Sao Paulo has recorded 1,095 deaths from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, Gorinchteyn said during a press conference on Wednesday, adding that 11 out of 15 regions in the state had more than 90% of beds in their intensive care units filled.

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Jair Bolsonaro / Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ©Reuters / Ueslei Marcelino / Amanda Perobelli
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