Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has threatened to pull Brazil out of the World Health Organization, despite recording 1,000 daily deaths for a fourth-consecutive day.
A new Brazilian record for daily COVID-19 fatalities of 1,437 pushed Brazil’s death toll past that of Italy late on Thursday, but Mr Bolsonaro continues to argue for quickly lifting state isolation orders, arguing that the economic costs outweigh public health risks.
Brazil’s Health Ministry reported another 1,005 deaths on Friday night, taking the overall tally to 35,026, with 30,830 new cases bringing the overall tally to 645,771, the second most in the world behind the United States.
The pandemic has now killed more people in Brazil than anywhere outside of the United States and the United Kingdom.
World Health Organization (WHO) spokeswoman Margaret Harris said, “the epidemic, the outbreak, in Latin America is deeply, deeply concerning”.
In comments to journalists later on Friday, Mr Bolsonaro said Brazil would consider leaving the WHO unless it ceases to be a “partisan political organisation”.
President Donald Trump, an ideological ally of Bolsonaro, said last month that the United States would end its own relationship with the WHO, accusing it of becoming a puppet of China, where the coronavirus first emerged.
Bolsonaro’s dismissal of the coronavirus risks to public health and efforts to lift state quarantines have drawn criticism from across the political spectrum in Brazil, where some accuse him of using the crisis to undermine democratic institutions.