Brazil’s 300,000 deaths from Covid-19 constitute ‘the greatest genocide in our country’s history’

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The more than 300,000 deaths in Brazil from the coronavirus represent the “ biggest genocide ” in the history of the Latin American country, former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said in a devastating attack on current leader Jair Bolsonaro on Friday.

‘On Tuesday 3158 people died of Covid in Brazil. It is the greatest genocide in our history, ”Lula told German weekly Der Spiegel, adding that Bolsonaro had lied to the Brazilian people about the pandemic.

After a corruption conviction was dropped against him earlier this month, recent polls suggest that Lula is the best-placed politician to challenge far-right Bolsonaro in next year’s election.

Former President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (pictured on March 10 after a corruption conviction against him was canceled) has carried out a devastating attack on Brazil's current leader, Jair Bolsonaro, saying the more than 300,000 dead in Brazil by the coronavirus amount to the 'greatest genocide' in the history of the Latin American country

Former President of Brazil Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (pictured on March 10 after a corruption conviction against him was canceled) has carried out a devastating attack on Brazil’s current leader, Jair Bolsonaro, saying the more than 300,000 dead in Brazil by the coronavirus amount to the ‘greatest genocide’ in the history of the Latin American country

Lula’s comments come after Brazil surpassed 100,000 new Covid-19 cases in one day on Thursday, adding another stark record in the country.

With the new cases, it is now known that at least 12.3 million people are infected with the corona virus in Brazil. After the United States, it is the most affected country in the world.

The toll has risen steadily since February, partly due to the abandonment of social distance norms and a new virus variant that has surfaced in the country believed to be more contagious than the original species.

Another big problem is that the country’s vaccination drive is slow. Brazil has given at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine to 7.79 people per 100 – a similar rate for the other South American countries, with the exception of Chile, with a rate of 49.19.

However, compared to the 39.89 doses per 100 people in the United States, the only country in the world with more deaths from the coronavirus, Brazil is far behind.

As it struggles to get its vaccination program off the ground, the average number of new daily infections in Brazil in the past seven days is 77,050 – twice as many as in January.

After a corruption conviction was canceled against him earlier this month, recent polls suggest that Lula is the best-placed politician to challenge far-right incumbent Bolsonaro (pictured March 25 at a ceremony) in next year's election.

After a corruption conviction against him was canceled earlier this month, recent polls suggest that Lula is the best-placed politician to challenge the far-right incumbent Bolsonaro (pictured in a ceremony on March 25) in next year's election.

After a corruption conviction was canceled against him earlier this month, recent polls suggest that Lula is the best-placed politician to challenge far-right incumbent Bolsonaro (pictured March 25 at a ceremony) in next year’s election.

On Tuesday, the daily death toll exceeded 3,000 for the first time. The daily fatalities in Brazil is now the highest in the world.

President Jair Bolsonaro announced on Wednesday that he was setting up a crisis committee to address the pandemic, a change of course amid mounting pressure on a situation he has repeatedly minimized.

The announcements seemed to do little to tame criticism of Bolsonaro, who has rejected expert advice on lockdowns and face masks, pushed a drug regime he calls the “ early treatment package ” that scientists say doesn’t work, and spoke out against vaccines.

Pictured: Graph showing the moving seven-day average of new recorded deaths from coronavirus in Brazil.  On Tuesday, the daily death toll exceeded 3,000 for the first time.  The daily fatalities in Brazil is now the highest in the world

Pictured: Graph showing the moving seven-day average of new recorded deaths from coronavirus in Brazil.  On Tuesday, the daily death toll exceeded 3,000 for the first time.  The daily fatalities in Brazil is now the highest in the world

Pictured: Graph showing the moving seven-day average of new recorded deaths from coronavirus in Brazil. On Tuesday, the daily death toll exceeded 3,000 for the first time. The daily fatalities in Brazil is now the highest in the world

Pictured: Graph showing the moving seven-day average of new recorded coronavirus cases in Brazil.  As it struggles to get its vaccination program off the ground, the average number of new daily infections in Brazil in the past seven days is 77,050 - twice as many as in January

Pictured: Graph showing the moving seven-day average of new recorded coronavirus cases in Brazil.  As it struggles to get its vaccination program off the ground, the average number of new daily infections in Brazil in the past seven days is 77,050 - twice as many as in January

Pictured: Graph showing the moving seven-day average of new recorded coronavirus cases in Brazil. As it struggles to get its vaccination program off the ground, the average number of new daily infections in Brazil in the past seven days is 77,050 – twice as many as in January

Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper accused the president of lying when he said his government had worked tirelessly to fight the virus.

“For 12 months, Bolsonaro has kept the pandemic to a minimum, promoted crowds, spoke out against the use of masks and halted talks to secure vaccines,” he said.

Despite his apparent change of mind, Bolsonaro again on Thursday criticized lockdown measures as bad for Latin America’s largest economy.

“If the radical shutdown policy continues, who knows what will happen to Brazil?” Bolsonaro said in his daily social media talk show.

“But I want to make one thing clear: we want to fight the virus,” he added.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva receives a dose of Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Sao Bernardo do Campo near Sao Paulo, Brazil, March 13, 2021

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva receives a dose of Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Sao Bernardo do Campo near Sao Paulo, Brazil, March 13, 2021

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva receives a dose of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Sao Bernardo do Campo near Sao Paulo, Brazil, March 13, 2021

Pictured: Cemetery workers carry a coffin during the first nighttime burial amid the coronavirus pandemic at Vila Formosa Cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 25, 2021

Pictured: Cemetery workers carry a coffin during the first nighttime burial amid the coronavirus pandemic at Vila Formosa Cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 25, 2021

Pictured: Cemetery workers carry a coffin during the first nighttime burial amid the coronavirus pandemic at Vila Formosa Cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 25, 2021

Elsewhere in South America, Argentina has chosen to suspend flights from Brazil, Chile and Mexico from Saturday to prevent several strains of the coronavirus from entering the country as it braces for a second wave of infections.

The government said in a statement Thursday that the measures, including tests and mandatory isolation for citizens returning from other regions, will take effect on Saturday.

“Until further notice, regular flights will be suspended from … Chile, Brazil, Mexico,” the statement read. A similar policy is already in place for flights from Great Britain.

Argentina has recorded 2,278,115 cases of COVID-19 and 55,092 deaths, and the government is concerned about the chaotic situation in neighboring Brazil.

In Chile, health officials extended a lockdown on the capital, Santiago on Thursday to tame a second wave of infections, even as the South American nation continues to dabble with the world’s fastest per capita vaccination campaign.

Cases in Chile were ticking for weeks after the summer holidays ended in the southern hemisphere, but hit a record Saturday, leaving hospitals on the verge of collapse.

In Chile, health officials extended a lockdown over the capital, Santiago on Thursday (photo Thursday) to tame a second wave of infections, even as the South American nation continues to dabble with the world's fastest per capita vaccination campaign.

In Chile, health officials extended a lockdown over the capital, Santiago on Thursday (photo Thursday) to tame a second wave of infections, even as the South American nation continues to dabble with the world's fastest per capita vaccination campaign.

In Chile, health officials extended a lockdown over the capital, Santiago on Thursday (photo Thursday) to tame a second wave of infections, even as the South American nation continues to dabble with the world’s fastest per capita vaccination campaign.

Authorities announced a slew of new restrictions on Thursday, restricting travel within the country and temporarily banning quarantined people from leaving their homes to run errands, calling the more extreme measures “a last resort.”

Large parts of Santiago, a city of more than 6 million inhabitants and the country’s economic engine, were already trapped, but officials said the rest of the city would also be quarantined to slow the spread of the virus.

The new restrictions come even as Chile, a relatively small but wealthy Andean nation, is currently vaccinating per capita faster than any other, according to a Reuters table of countries with more than 1 million people.

Officials say the cases worsened alongside the arrival of more contagious variants of the virus and a relaxation of sanitation measures during the successful vaccination program.

Chile was the first in South America to begin vaccinating its citizens, with an early shipment of the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 24.