Barely a week after his appointment, Brasil health minister Nelson Teich, has proposed easing restrictions on movement currently in place to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Speaking in capital Brasilia, he said the government intended to present a directive for cities and states within a week.
“It is impossible for a country to survive for a year, a year and a half, if it stands still.
“Social distancing is a natural measure and logical to begin with, but it cannot be applied without an exit plan,” Teich said.
The speech was Teich’s first since being appointed by President Jair Bolsonaro last Thursday to succeed Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who was dismissed in a dispute over the proper handling of the coronavirus.
While Mandetta, like various governors and mayors, pleaded for limited curfews and protective measures, the right-wing populist Bolsonaro considers the measures to be excessive and wants life to return to normal as quickly as possible.
In his speech, Teich justified lifting the restrictions by saying that even if the number of people infected with the coronavirus in Brazil were 100 times higher than the 43,000 officially reported by the Ministry of Health, the four million people in a population of 208 million would only represent two per cent.
Teich did not address the critical situation in the city of Manaus in the Amazon region.
The health system has reportedly collapsed there and a refrigerated container was set up in front of a large hospital to store corpses.