Concerned with a recession that is projected to be historic, Brazil began de-escalation on Monday in several of the regions most affected by the coronavirus, including Sao Paulo, its economic engine, despite the fact that the pandemic continues to expand.
The country, second in the world in number of cases (526,447) and fourth in deaths (29,937), is testing a gradual reopening of non-essential activities, although the statistics still reflect an exponential growth in the disease.
In the last week the daily deaths by COVID-19 exceeded one thousand four times and the peak is only expected between this month and the next.
The economic reopening inaugurated today in the state of Sao Paulo, responsible for a third of the Brazilian gross domestic product (GDP), was repeated in other cities in the states of Ceará (northeast), Pará and Amazonas (north).
On the other hand, the city of Rio de Janeiro also announced a relaxation of social distancing measures starting this Tuesday.
The five are the states hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis from a list of 27 that Sao Paulo leads, with 7,667 deaths and 111,296 infections.
Likewise, other states in the south of the country began weeks ago their particular reopening, a decision vehemently defended by President Jair Bolsonaro, one of the few world leaders to deny the danger of COVID-19, although precipitated in the opinion of health experts.
The governors thus begin to align themselves with the postulates of the president in the face of the gloomy scenario that lies ahead, with a fall of 6.25% of the economy forecast for this 2020, according to the financial market; a public deficit already close to 10% of GDP, and an unemployment rate of 12.6% and on the rise.
The economic heart of Brazil starts slowly
The reopening in Sao Paulo, the country’s most industrialized and wealthy state, with some 46 million inhabitants, only materialized, however, in the interior regions.
In the São Paulo capital and its metropolitan area nothing has changed; non-essential stores have been closed since the end of March.
In the street “March 25”, one of the most important commercial points in Sao Paulo, the vast majority of businesses were still closed, although there was a lot of movement of people, according to Efe.
Despite having the green light, the mayor of Sao Paulo, Bruno Covas, extended the quarantine until June 15, during which time the sectors interested in reopening must present a series of health and safety protocols.
The Governor of Sao Paulo, Joao Doria, defended the planned de-escalation today, according to what he said, based on science, and specified that each municipality will have to adopt the schedule in a “conscious” way.
“For this they must rigorously follow the five stages” established by the authorities, he stated at a press conference.
Doria also took the opportunity to criticize Bolsonaro’s horse ride at a demonstration in Brasilia held the day before against confinement and in which the “closure” of Congress and the Supreme Court was again requested.
“The president rides a horse, while the pandemic gallops” across the country, he denounced.
In the northeast and north the reopening also begins
Ceará, the third Brazilian state most affected by the coronavirus, with 3,188 deaths and 50,504 infected, released more than a dozen sectors, including non-essential trade, construction and transformation industries, back to business.
On the other hand, the state of Amazonas, which has 2,071 deaths and 41,774 cases, and which temporarily had its collapsed health and funeral services, also began its cycle de-escalation in its capital Manaus today.
Isolation measures were also relaxed in Pará, one of the few that decreed total confinement (“lockdown”) in some of its cities and that until Monday registered 2,925 deaths and 38,046 infected.
Scientists warn: pandemic is not controlled
Brazil has already exceeded half a million infections by the new coronavirus, less than one hundred days after the first case registered on February 26.
The data could be even much higher due to the enormous underreporting still existing in this country of 210 million inhabitants.
In addition, Brazil “is assuming world leadership” in relation to daily deaths, above the United States, indicating that the pandemic “is still in full swing,” warns Efe Marcelo Urbano, professor at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences of the University of Sao Paulo (USP).
“It is quite reckless now to relax the measures of social distancing in the boom of the transmission curve,” said this researcher from the Amparo Foundation to the Investigation of the state of Sao Paulo (Fapesp). EFE