Brazil’s Health Ministry removed the data on its COVID-19 epidemic, from a website that had documented the epidemic over time and by state authorities.
The ministry also stopped giving a total count of confirmed cases, which have shot past 672,000 – more than anywhere outside the United States – or a total death toll, which passed Italy this week, nearing 36,000 by Saturday.
“The cumulative data … does not reflect the moment the country is in,” President Jair Bolsonaro said on Twitter
The critics have called this move an attempt to hide the true toll of the disease in the country.
A council of state health secretaries in Brazil said it would fight the changes by Bolsonaro, who has dismissed the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic and tried to thwart attempts to impose quarantines, curfews and social distancing, arguing those steps are causing more damage to the economy than the coronavirus.
“The authoritarian, insensitive, inhumane and unethical attempt to make the COVID-19 deaths invisible will not prosper,” the health secretaries’ council said.