Brazil’s Attorney General has called for an investigation into several invasions of hospitals in the country, after its President called on Brazilians to inspect the conditions of medical wards treating Covid-19 patients.
Augusto Aras’s request will be sent on Monday to several state prosecutor offices, including in São Paulo and Brasilia, where hospital invasions occurred on June 4 and June 9 respectively, according to a press release by the AG’s office.
On June 4, several State deputies – including some from Bolsonaro’s party (PSL) – also invaded a Covid-19 field hospital in São Paulo and took pictures of it, and patients without authorization, the city’s mayor told CNN Brasil.
“This behavior endangers the physical integrity of the brave professionals who dedicate themselves to reversing a health crisis unprecedented in the country’s history,” the Attorney-General Augusto Aras said in the press release.
In a Facebook Live last Thursday, Bolsonaro called on citizens to enter hospitals to film the conditions themselves in order “to show if the beds are occupied or not.” He claimed that local politicians might be inflating data on the number of deaths from coronavirus to receive more money and to blame his government for an increase in the resulting death toll.
“No one lost their life, in most cases, due to the lack of ICU beds or ventilators,” Bolsonaro said.
Following Bolsonaro’s call, members of a Brazilian family upset by the death of a hospitalized relative also stormed the ICU unit of a Rio de Janeiro hospital used to treat Covid-19 patients on Friday June 12.
Dr. Alexandre Telles, president of a local doctors’ union and a physician at the Ronaldo Gazolla Hospital, told CNN that the area that the deceased patient’s relatives entered was a restricted one: “According to the reports I got from medical staff that saw the scene, the family was very angry for losing their relative and because her death certificate came as suspected of Covid-19. They didn’t accept it. The patient was being treated for Covid and very quickly she got into a severe state and passed away,” said Telles, who added that the deceased was tested for Covid-19 and that her results may take several days to become available.
However, Rio’s municipal health secretary has denied that the family were responding to Bolsonaro’s call.
The Brazilian president has frequently played down the severity of the coronavirus outbreak, even as it devastates his country.
Brazil has the second-most Covid-19 deaths in the world, but the populist leader has claimed the virus is merely a “little flu” and has sparred with regional leaders around the country.
Earlier this month Brazil’s former leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called on him to be impeached, while the mayor of hard-hit Manaus has told him to “shut up” and “resign” over his handling of the pandemic.
Marcia Reverdosa contributed reporting from Sao Paulo.