Coronavirus: Bolsonaro fires health minister over pandemic response

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Brazil’s health minister has been fired by the country’s right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro for his response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Luiz Henrique Mandetta tweeted that Mr Bolsonaro had handed him his notice.

President Bolsonaro had publicly criticised Mr Mandetta for urging people to observe social distancing and stay indoors.

The Brazilian leader disagreed with these measures, instead downplaying the virus as “a little flu”.

In the tweet, Mr Mandetta wrote: “I thank the entire team that was with me at the Ministry of Health, and I wish my successor success as the Minister of Health. I pray God and Our Lady of Aparecida to bless our country.”

President Bolsonaro and Mr Mandetta at a briefing
Image captionPresident Bolsonaro, left, and Mr Mandetta have been at odds for weeks

The two have been at odds for weeks. Where the president has made light of the outbreak and promoted unproven treatments, Mr Mandetta has largely urged people to follow guidelines that are being brought in all over the world.

While regional governors who enforced lockdown orders were praised by Mr Mandetta, they were attacked by Mr Bolsonaro.

Tensions then escalated on Sunday, when the health minister gave a television interview in which he urged the government to speak with a unified voice on the crisis, effectively a criticism of President Bolsonaro’s response.

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