Brazil and Belarus: playing down the pandemic?

The leaders of some countries are turning a blind eye to the coronavirus pandemic. In Belarus, for example, President Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly railed against the 'corona panic' - and recommends drinking vodka to prevent infection. In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro has accused the media and politicians of scaremongering. While some observers voice concern others see good reason to take a relaxed stance.

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Ukrajinska Prawda (UA) /

Being prepared is paying off

There are good reasons why Belarus has so few cases of coronavirus despite not having introduced hardly any restrictions, Ukrayinska Pravda comments:

“The country has carried out more than 40,000 tests and is producing its own kits. ... It has more ventilators per inhabitant than many EU countries, and even than the US. ... More than a million dollars have already been transferred to an account set up by the Health Ministry and other such accounts. People are helping each other and are well organised in the pandemic. Perhaps thanks to this cohesion the country will be able to avoid a sharp increase in fatalities - without having to impose harsh quarantine measures.”

Delfi (LT) /

A bomb is ticking across the border

Delfi is deeply concerned about how the coronavirus pandemic is being managed in neighbouring Belarus:

“The threat posed by President Lukashenko's irrational behaviour is growing. ... And it could well grow to be as large as that posed by the Russian-built nuclear power plant near Astravyets. If the epidemic really breaks out in Belarus it will also reach Lithuania. As for Lukashenko, his statements have been completely illogical. In the beginning he even denied that there were any cases at all in the country. In his opinion it was nothing but a psychosis. ... The Vitebsk Region has the most cases. No one knows how many exactly, because most patients are diagnosed with pneumonia rather than Covid-19. There is a dense fog over the whole issue.”

Folha de S. Paulo (BR) /

There is nothing to discuss

Brazil's media is for the most part critical of the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis. Abram Szajman, president of the Association for Trade in Goods, Services and Tourism in São Paulo, makes the case for rapid action:

“We are wasting valuable time in the debate between the authorities and the government. There is nothing left to discuss: it has been proven that social isolation has the function of preventing an explosion of infections so that chaos can be avoided in the health system. There is also nothing more to diagnose in terms of the economic impact of this pandemic. The focus should be on ensuring that the channels through which a lot of money for adapting the health system and maintaining businesses and jobs flows work and that the needs of the population can be met.”