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article imageAs death toll soars from COVID-19, Brazil hides data from public

By Karen Graham     Jun 7, 2020 in Health
Brazil removed from public view months of data on its COVID-19 epidemic on Saturday, as President Jair Bolsonaro defended delays and changes to official record-keeping of the world's second-largest coronavirus outbreak.
The move to hide the database from the public comes after months of criticism by health experts who say Brazil's statistics relating to the coronavirus are "woefully deficient and in some cases manipulated," reports The Guardian.
Currently, Brazil has the second-largest number of coronavirus cases - and just recently had more new deaths than any other nation. The country has 640,000 confirmed infections, but the number is believed to be much higher because of insufficient testing. Over 35,000 people have died, the third-highest toll in the world.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been criticized for his downplaying of the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, calling it nothing more than the flu. The BBC is reporting that he has rejected using lockdown measures recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and, on Friday, threatened to pull out of the body, accusing it of being a "partisan political organization."
The ministry of Health removed the data from its website on Friday. The data was cumulative, covering the epidemic over time and by state and municipality. The web page now has a new layout, giving only the number of new cases and number of deaths in the last 24 hours, as well as the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19.
"The cumulative data ... does not reflect the moment the country is in," Bolsonaro said on Twitter, citing a note from the ministry. "Other actions are underway to improve the reporting of cases and confirmation of diagnoses."
Late on Saturday, the ministry reported 27,075 new confirmed infections and 904 related deaths since its Friday update. Bolsonaro tweeted on Saturday that a later daily update would "avoid under notification and inconsistencies," reports France 24.
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