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Bolsonaro fires health minister, calls to reopen economy

Video Credit: Reuters - Politics - Duration: 01:49s - Published
Bolsonaro fires health minister, calls to reopen economy

Bolsonaro fires health minister, calls to reopen economy

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro fired his health minister on Thursday after clashing with him over how to fight the new coronavirus, and again called for states to end stay-at-home orders that he said were hurting the economy.

Libby Hogan reports.

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro fired his health minister on Thursday (April 16) after clashing with him over how to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

(SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) PRESIDENT JAIR BOLSONARO, SAYING: "We discussed the current situation in the (Health) Ministry, the pandemic.

It was a very productive conversation, very cordial, where we wrapped up this cycle of the Health Ministry." Few global leaders have downplayed the global pandemic, which has killed nearly 2000 Brazilians, to the same extent as Bolsonaro.

Instead he has called the virus quote "a little flu" and hit heads with health experts, including the popular outgoing health minister, Luis Henrique Mandetta.

As the annoucement was made, Bolsonaro again called for states to end stay-at-home orders, claiming it was hurting the economy.

But after swiftly dethroning Minister Henrique Mandetta, new Minister Nelson Teich stepped up to the mark and offered more moderate advice: (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) INCOMING HEALTH MINISTER NELSON TEICH, SAYING: "In regards to keeping distance and isolation, what is to happen, you will not see a radical and dramatic shift (in policy) on what is to happen." Teich lacks the political experience of his predecessor.

The former Health Minister provided guidance supportive of the social distancing measures and his daily briefings contradicted Bolsonaro's praise for unproven drugs.

In a survey last month, the Health Ministry's response was rated good or great by 76 percent and just 33 percent gave Bolsonaro the same ratings.

In his parting comments, Mandetta called for a smooth transition and warned that Brazil is still far from the peak of the coronavirus outbreak.



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