Coronavirus: Brazil's Bolsonaro sees second health minister quit

Brazil's health minister has resigned after less than a month in the job following disagreements over of the government's handling of the country's escalating coronavirus crisis.

Nelson Teich had criticised a decree issued by President Jair Bolsonaro allowing gyms and beauty parlours to reopen.

His predecessor was sacked after disagreeing with Mr Bolsonaro.

The far-right president continues to oppose lockdown measures.

He has downplayed the virus as "a little flu" and has said the spread of Covid-19 is inevitable, attracting global criticism.

Brazil has recently surged passed Germany and France in terms of its coronavirus caseload, becoming one of the world's hotspots with more than 200,000 cases. The latest daily figures on Thursday showed 844 new deaths recorded, bringing the official death toll to just shy of 14,000.

Why did the minister resign?

An official reason is yet to be given but Mr Teich is expected to give a media conference later on Friday to explain.

He has clashed with President Bolsonaro over several aspects of how the government has dealt with the spiralling epidemicHe disagreed with the president's desire to widely use chloroquine as a treatment. The drug has gained widespread attention although the World Health Organization (WHO) says there's no definitive evidence it works.

Mr Teich also butted heads with the president over plans to open up the economy, saying last week that he was not consulted ahead of an order that paved the way for gyms, beauty salons and hairdressers to reopen.

But disagreements over how chloroquine should be used was the final straw, the Globo newspaper reported.

He is second health minister to leave the post in under a month. Luiz Henrique Mandetta was fired in April after President Bolsonaro publicly criticised him for urging people to observe social distancing and stay indoors.

Nelson Teich didn't even last a month - and now Brazil is yet again without a health minister in a pandemic that people here feel is out of control.

Despite the death toll soaring, Jair Bolsonaro is intent on ignoring the severity of the crisis.

Since Mr Teich took the job, there have been disagreements over the use of chloroquine and Mr Bolsonaro failed to consult the health ministry over his decision to re-open services such as gyms and beauty salons.

With such a track record, it's not easy to be the health minister for Jair Bolsonaro - and no easy job to find a willing replacement either.


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