The Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases (SBI) saw with concern the statement by President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday night (24). In a note, the entity representing medical specialists, considered that the president’s speech may give a false impression that the social restraint measures are inadequate and that Covid-19 is similar to the common cold. (read the full note below)
In his speech, the president called the disease “cold,” opposed experts and called for an end to “mass confinement”. He also called for a “return to normal” and blamed the press for “spreading dread”.
- See repercussions of Bolsonaro’s pronouncement on coronavirus
The SBI highlighted Bolsonaro’s speech that it is foolhardy to associate that the approximately 800 deaths per day caused by the disease in Italy, mostly among the elderly, are related only to the cold climate of the European winter.
Infectologists classify the pandemic as serious. Worldwide, there are more than 420 thousand confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and more than 17 thousand deaths, 47 in Brazil – 40 in São Paulo, 6 in Rio de Janeiro, and 1 in Amazonas.
In this difficult moment of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world and in Brazil, we were concerned by the official pronouncement of the President of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro, against the closure of schools and referring to this new infectious disease as “a chilled ”.
Such messages can give the false impression to the population that the measures of social restraint are inadequate and that COVID-19 is similar to the common cold, but a disease with low lethality. It is also foolhardy to say that the nearly 800 daily deaths that are occurring in Italy, really the majority among the elderly, are related only to the cold climate of the European winter. The pandemic is serious, since to date more than 420 thousand confirmed cases have been registered in the world and almost 19 thousand deaths, 46 in Brazil.
Brazil is in an increasing curve of cases, with community transmission of the virus and the number of infected people is doubling every three days.
We agree with the President when he praises the work of the Minister of Health, Dr. Luiz Henrique Mandetta, and his team, whose actions have been a great manager in the most serious epidemic that Brazil has ever faced in its recent history. Since the beginning of the epidemic, the Ministry of Health and the National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) have been working together with several scientific medical societies, in particular with the Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases, with several face-to-face meetings, conference calls and exchanges of information almost that daily.
We also agree that we must be extremely concerned about the socioeconomic impact of this pandemic and the concern about families’ jobs and livelihoods. However, from a scientific-epidemiological point of view, social distance is essential to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, when it reaches the stage of community transmission. This measure must be associated with the respiratory isolation of patients with the disease, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by health professionals and frequent hand hygiene by the entire population. The measures of greater or lesser social restriction will depend on the evolution of the epidemic in Brazil and, in the coming weeks, we may have different measures for regions that present phases far from its dissemination.
When COVID-19 reaches the stage of open community dissemination, the greatest social constraint, with the closure of trade and non-essential industry, in addition to not allowing human agglomerations, is imposed. Therefore, it is being taken in developed European countries and the United States of America.
Doctors, nurses, nursing technicians, physiotherapists and all other health professionals are working hard in hospitals and health facilities across the country. The epidemic is dynamic, as should measures to minimize its spread. “Staying at home” is the most appropriate answer for most Brazilian cities at this time, especially the most populous.