Covid-19: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro joins lockdown protests

Covid-19: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro joins lockdown protests

- President Jair Bolsonaro has called on Brazilians to reject lockdown orders that were being implemented by state governments

- On Sunday, Bolsonaro joined civilians in protesting against the orders, saying they would negatively affect the economy

- Recently, the president sacked his health minister for asking citizens to observe social distancing

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has joined demonstrators in protesting against lockdown orders that were being implemented by state governments.

On Sunday, the head of state joined hundreds of demonstrators outside army headquarters in the capital Brasilia to protest stay-at-home orders.

According to a report by Vox News, Bolsonaro also appeared to suggest the army should intervene in handling of the coronavirus pandemic and demanded the closure of congress.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: Ramaphosa promises food corruption will be harshly punished

Coronavirus in Brazil: President Jair Bolsonaro joins protest against lockdown orders
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro when he joined protesters oustide the army headquarters. Photo: France 24
Source: UGC
"I am here because I believe in you and you are here because you believe in Brazil," the president told the crowd from the back of a bakkie.

Bolsonaro had been vehemently opposed to the partial quarantine measures implemented by the governors, including those in charge of the country's most populous states, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Although the president did not respond directly to the crowd's call for military intervention nor the demand to close congress, he encouraged them to fight for their country.

"You must fight for your country. Count on your president to do what is necessary so that we can guarantee democracy and what is most dear to us, our freedom," Bolsonaro told the protesters.

On Friday the president reportedly sacked his Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta for supporting the lockdown which, according to him, was damaging the economy.

READ ALSO: Covid-19: Dlamini-Zuma bans sale of hot cooked food during lockdown

Bolsonaro has consistently downplayed the virus, calling it a “little flu” and arguing that Brazilians were well-suited for it because they could be dunked in sewage and “don’t catch a thing”.

The president has also frequently defied social distancing guidelines from his own administration and opposed lockdowns initiated by governors of states, accusing them of exploiting the pandemic for political gain.

By Monday, Brazil with a population of more than 200 million, had reported the most Covid-19 cases in Latin America with 38 654 infections and 2 462 deaths.

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