President Jair Bolsonaro’s upbeat rhetoric is yet to bear any positive results amid the coronavirus outbreak. Brazil is inching towards the 17,000 mark as the country’s death toll stands at 16,792. Experts, however, staunchly believe that the figures are likely to be an undercount owing to poor testing capacity and rates.

Far from a point where the curve is flattened; Bolsonaro government has enough to worry about -- Brazil has overtaken United Kingdom’s spot, finding itself in the third position among the list of countries to have been badly hit by the pandemic compounded by the former health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta’s predictions of how things are only going to get worse in the next three months.

Mandetta had ascertained that the death toll could eventually reach 150,000. Mandetta reiterated that three major cities, Manaus and Belém in the Amazon and Fortaleza in the north-east,  were under great danger, and the consequences of the outbreak in these places would be nothing short of a catastrophe if stringent lockdown measures weren’t imposed.

Despite the economic upheaval and absolute chaos that surrounds the country at present, Bolsonaro seems unrelenting in his pursuit of getting things back to normal. In a bid to save the drowning economy, and people from misery and starvation, Bolsonaro wants the lockdown lifted as soon as possible.

His disrespect to the warnings by his own health ministry was evidenced in the hasty exit of two of his health ministers -- Nelson Teich and Luiz Herique Mandetta -- in less than a month’s time.

With things seeming to go into a downward spiral, Bolsonaro amassed severe backlash with protestors and his opposition accusing the leader of choosing politics over the health of his people. “It’s terrible to see that Brazil is more worried about politics than with health … It’s absurd that in the middle of a humanitarian crisis we are discussing petty politics so much,” said Miguel Lago, the director of Brazil’s Institute for Health Policy Studies as per a recent report on a media outlet.

“But I think this is Bolsonaro’s strategy. There are many important discussions we should be having. How can we fight the economic crisis? How can we fight the health crisis? How can we improve our health system during and after the coronavirus crisis? How can we deal with the loss of 10% of our GDP? But none of those discussions are taking place. All we are discussing is politics,” he added.

Jair Bolsonaro Jair Bolsonaro, presidential candidate for the Social Liberal Party, attends an interview for Correio Brazilianse newspaper in Brasilia, June 6, 2018. Getty Images/ EVARISTO SA