Brazil’s health minister Nelson Teich resigned Friday, after serving for less than one month, as the country is set to become the next major coronavirus hotspot.
Teich took the post April 17 but soon clashed with Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro over whether or not Brazil should prioritize the economy over health-driven lockdowns, the Associated Press reports. Teich’s deputy, Gen. Eduardo Pazuello, will serve as interim health minister until Bolsonaro announces a replacement.
Brazil currently has more than 208,000 cases and has reported more than 14,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. However, an April study conducted by multiple Brazilian universities suggested that the number of cases could be up to twelve times higher due to underreporting and a lack of testing, Reuters reports.
The country of 212 million people has recently seen a dramatic uptick in the number of cases, registering over 880 deaths Tuesday, the highest one day death toll in Brazil thus far.
Luciano Cesar Azevedo, a physician in the city of São Paulo, stated in an interview that the country’s health-care system has been put under severe strain by the outbreak, with a lack of medical resources and health professionals worsening the situation. “Brazil is probably the next epicenter of the pandemic in the world,” Azevedo said.
The coronavirus has also created a political crisis in Brazil as Bolsonaro’s government attempts to combat the pandemic. After visiting the United States in March, Bolsonaro contested claims from news outlets over whether or not he had tested positive for the virus. (RELATED: Brazilian Official Pictured With President Trump Tests Positive For Coronavirus)
As Brazil’s government struggles to deal with the political and economic fallout of the coronavirus, the number of cases and deaths continues to surge.