Brazil ministry ordered to resume publishing full virus data
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A Brazilian Supreme Court justice has ordered the government of President Jair Bolsonaro to resume publication of full COVID-19 data, including the cumulative death toll, following allegations that the government was trying to hide the severity of the pandemic in Latin America’s biggest country.
Justice Alexandre de Moraes said late Monday that the government is obliged to provide necessary information to Brazilian citizens, days after the Health Ministry scrubbed the cumulative death toll from the new coronavirus from its website. De Moraes said in his decision that the gravity of the pandemic, which has killed more than 37,000 Brazilians, requires transparency from the government as the country shapes policies to curb the virus.
Brazil’s health ministry stopped publishing the number of total COVID-19 deaths and confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday. The restriction on the release of data, combined with its announcement after evening news programs had ended, generated widespread criticism. Gilmar Mendes, another Supreme Court justice, said on Saturday that manipulation of data is a tactic of authoritarian regimes and that hiding the numbers wouldn’t exempt the government from responsibility for the pandemic’s heavy toll in Brazil.
Facing intense criticism, a top Health Ministry official told reporters Monday night that the ministry would restore the cumulative death toll to its website, but with changes to the methodology for how daily deaths are tallied.
On Tuesday afternoon, Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello told a congressional committee that the ministry will restore complete data on the pandemic to its website within 48 hours, and said the government is committed to transparency.