Brazil declares COVID-19 state of emergency as Bolsonaro approval slips

World Materials 20 March 2020 23:35 (UTC +04:00)

Brazil declared a state of emergency on Friday, freeing up funds for the federal government to fight a coronavirus crisis that has hurt the popularity of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s government, Trend reports citing Reuters.

The Senate approved a measure letting the government waive fiscal targets this year, with senators voting remotely after two of them tested positive for the virus causing the COVID-19 respiratory disease.

Bolsonaro is facing criticism as he seeks to balance major public health concerns with protecting Brazil’s long-ailing economy. The pandemic poses serious political risks for the populist, who initially labeled it a “fantasy.”

In comments to journalists on Friday, he slammed state governors for taking “extreme measures” that hurt the economy.

Sao Paulo state Governor João Doria said a statewide public emergency would go into force on Saturday, aimed at allowing the government to better fight the virus. All parks and non-essential public services will close until the end of April.

Doria defended the move and criticized Bolsonaro.

“We’re doing what he’s not doing,” Doria said. “And when he does do it, he does it wrong.”

Approval of Bolsonaro’s government fell to a record low this week, according to XP Investimentos poll released on Friday. Just 30% of those surveyed rated his administration “good” or “great,” compared with 36% calling it “bad” or “awful.”