By Martina Farmbauer and Sinikka Tarvainen (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – A judge at Brazil’s Supreme Court has ordered the government to again start publishing full Covid-19 infection figures, ruling that it was necessary to protect public health.
Judge Alexandre de Moraes’ decision was made public on Tuesday, after the government stopped releasing cumulative figures at the weekend, limiting itself to daily figures.
It had previously pushed back the publication of Covid-19 statistics by three hours past the main evening news program.
President Jair Bolsonaro has downplayed the importance of the pandemic, despite Brazil having confirmed more than 700,000 infections, the second-largest number worldwide after the United States. Over 37,000 people have died.
The government’s moves on the statistics sparked a storm of criticism from lawmakers, health and legal experts.
Moraes stressed the seriousness of the pandemic and said it required the authorities “to put into effect the protection of public health,” according to a statement on the Supreme Court’s website.
The judge said the Health Ministry must “fully re-establish the daily disclosure of epidemiological data on the Covid-19 pandemic,” including on its website.
He highlighted “the disastrous consequences for the population if internationally recognized measures are not adopted, such as the collection, analysis, storage and dissemination of relevant epidemiological data.”
A group of media outlets has meanwhile started publishing full Covid-19 figures based on regional information.
The daily O Globo, which is part of the group, on Tuesday put the exact number of infections at 719,449 and the number of deaths at 37,840.
Bolsonaro, who has threatened to pull his country out of the World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile said it had “largely lost its credibility.”
He also criticized restrictions on the economy to protect people from the virus.
“We must not take away the right to come and go from the citizen who wants to earn their daily bread. Hunger kills, and if the world continues to adopt this type of isolation [measures], the number of deaths will be much greater than [those caused by] the virus itself,” news portal UOL quoted the president as saying.