The Brazilian government has been ordered to resume releasing complete COVID-19 statistics after the cabinet’s decision last week to stop publishing the relevant data on its official website.
On Monday night, Brazilian supreme court justice Alexandre de Moraes reportedly gave President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration 48 hours to resume releasing of the information, in a move that was welcomed by Randolfe Rodrigues, the opposition leader in the senate.
“The government will now be obliged to release the pandemic data, as before, without make-up or manipulation”, Rodrigues tweeted.
The judge’s order comes after the government last Friday deleted from its website covid.saude.gov.br the coronavirus data it had been documenting daily, weekly, and monthly, according to Reuters.
The country’s Health Ministry announced that it would stop publishing a running total of coronavirus deaths and infections, reporting only cases and deaths in the past 24 hours, while omitting a total figure.
President Bolsonaro, for his part, insisted that the cumulative COVID-19 statistics did not reflect the true situation with the pandemic.
He went on Twitter Saturday to confirm his stance, claiming that "the cumulative data […] does not reflect the moment the country is in", while adding that more measures were being taken to "improve the reporting of cases".
The Brazilian president has repeatedly dismissed the COVID-19 outbreak as a "media trick" and a "little flu", while publicly ridiculing quarantine restrictions.
"We will all die one day", Bolsonaro said as quoted by the news outlet Ultimo Segundo in late March.
He has consistently continued to call for lockdown measures imposed by local authorities to be lifted, accusing state governors and mayors who opted for stricter measures of seeking to use the issue for political gain.
In a recent report by the Imperial College London, published in The Lancet, the Brazilian president was slammed as the main threat to the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In the article the doctors argued that Bolsonaro’s disregard for lockdown measures is sowing confusion among Brazilian citizens and threatening to turn the country into a new coronavirus hot spot.
The World Health Organisation’s latest situation report revealed that Brazil currently has 691,758 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 36,455 fatalities — the second-highest in the world after the United States.