Even as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro makes tall claims about the worst of the pandemic being over, on May 5, Brazil recorded its largest-ever daily increase in the coronavirus death toll.

Given that the President is not even vaguely aware of how the pandemic is affecting his nation, reports that he is instead busy exploiting the situation to cover his assaults on the Amazon rainforests and the indigenous tribes that reside there. 

Brazil, slowly climbing the list of the highest COVID-19 cases to becomes its next major center, had reported 633 COVID-19 deaths on May 5, which brought its total death toll to 8,588. It is now that three of the 27 states in Brazil have finally announced the country’s first official lockdown measures. 

But even as the situation worsens in the nation, President Bolsonaro is least aware of the havoc the pandemic has wrecked. “I don’t know yet if the number of deaths is less than yesterday. But if it is, if I’m not mistaken, it’ll be the sixth consecutive day in which the number of deaths has fallen,” Bolsonaro said while speaking to reporters outside his presidential palace.

“That’s a sign that the worst is over, and I ask God for this to be true,” Bolsonaro added.

Just a few hours after this big statement, Brazil’s health ministry announced that the nation has recorded its highest death toll to date, indicating that the number of deaths has only risen. And as there exists a lack of testing and the pandemic is being under-reported, chances are that the number is much higher. 

But environmentalists are afraid that the real reason behind Bolsonaro’s ignorance is the fact that he is busy using the pandemic as a cover

Bolsonaro, who is infamous for his racist remarks against the indigenous tribes, and his supporters are suspected of breaking laws shielding the indigenous tribes living in the Amazon Forests, while they are already exposed to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Of late, many important environmental officials have been fired and many influential members of the indigenous tribes have been killed, striking fear in environmentalists and indigenous leaders that Bolsonaro and his supporters are using the pandemic to assault on the rainforest. 

“The indigenous peoples are alone and we have to fight against the virus, the loggers and the wildcat miners. We don’t know which is worse,” said Alessandra Munduruku, an indigenous leader from Pará state.

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