Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro looks on during a ceremony at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil Photograph:( Reuters )
The latest controversial comments from the far-right leader, who regularly flouts expert advice on fighting the new coronavirus despite having contracted it himself last year, came after Brazil registered its second daily record of Covid-19 deaths in as many days, leading some cities and states to go back on partial lockdown
President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday urged Brazilians to "stop whining" about Covid-19 and assured them he had secured enough vaccines, in his latest remarks attacking distancing measures and downplaying the gravity of the pandemic.
The latest controversial comments from the far-right leader, who regularly flouts expert advice on fighting the new coronavirus despite having contracted it himself last year, came after Brazil registered its second daily record of Covid-19 deaths in as many days, leading some cities and states to go back on partial lockdown.
"Stop whining. How long are you going to keep crying about it?" Bolsonaro said at an inauguration ceremony for a new railroad line in the central state of Goais.
"How long are you going to stay home? How long are you going to keep everything closed? People can't take it anymore," he added.
"We regret the deaths.... But where's Brazil going to end up if we just close everything?"
The Health Ministry registered 75,102 additional cases of coronavirus on Thursday, the most in a single day since July and the second-highest on record. Brazil also recorded 1,699, decreasing slightly from the previous two days of record deaths.
Brazil's surging second wave has triggered new restrictions in its capital, Brasilia, and its largest city, Sao Paulo. Tourist mecca Rio de Janeiro on Thursday announced a city-wide curfew and early closing time for restaurants.
The federal government has been slow to purchase and distribute vaccines, with less than 3.5 per cent of the population having gotten one shot.
Bolsonaro's comments came as a growing list of cities and states announced new partial lockdown measures, including the city of Rio de Janeiro and state of Sao Paulo.
The hard-hit country of 212 million people is having its deadliest week of the pandemic, with an average of more than 1,300 deaths per day over the past seven days.
An explosion of cases blamed partly on a new variant of the virus that emerged in the Amazon rainforest has filled intensive care units almost to capacity in many areas.
Bolsonaro has stoked controversy throughout the pandemic by comparing the virus to a "little flu," railing against stay-at-home measures and face masks, joking that getting vaccinated could "turn you into an alligator," and pushing the medication hydroxychloroquine despite studies showing it is ineffective against Covid-19.
Government-affiliated medical institute Fiocruz said that it has detected the Amazon, United Kingdom and South African variants spreading in various places across the country.
State governors and doctors have complained that the federal government has mismanaged the coronavirus crisis, as Bolsonaro has downplayed its severity and opposed lockdowns.
Nevertheless, Bolsonaro's popularity has been supported by 322 billion reais ($57.7 billion) in emergency aid payments to poorer Brazilians last year.
The Senate voted on Thursday to renew the aid program at a smaller scale, handing out 250 reais per month for four months, at a cost of up to 44 billion reais. The proposal must still be approved by Brazil's lower house of Congress.