Americas

Fauci and Redfield testify before House Committee on Trump’s response to COVID-19
Americas

Fauci and Redfield testify before House Committee on Trump’s response to COVID-19

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Head of US Covid-19 response team and Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were among the health experts who testified on Tuesday before a House Committee on the Coronavirus response of Donald Trump’s administration.

During the hearing, Dr. Redfield reported that in US more than 7000 nursing homes have Covid patients admitted. The nursing homes have been the worst effected of the coronavirus infection spread. Redfield commented that the coronavirus has “brought the country on its knees”. He said during the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing “We’ve all done the best that we can do to tackle this virus.”

Dr. Redfield highlighted that the country could end up spending close to $7 trillion to control the Covid-19 pandemic. He also mentioned that this virus has highlighted the years of underfunding in health department in the country which is showcased by the under working of “core capabilities of public health”. He stressed on the importance of a well structured public health system at the local level.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said that it is mandatory to wear masks, with no ‘exceptions’ at all the universities and educational institutes. However, regarding reopening of the schools and colleges, he said that “no one size fits all”. He said “If you have very, very few cases like in a small college in a county, I think you can be really very liberal in the opening.” Fauci also stressed on the importance of the caregivers in schools and staff in colleges regarding infection spread.

Fauci Redfield - Fauci and Redfield testify before House Committee on Trump’s response to COVID-19
Operation Warp Speed

Dr. Anthony Fauci said that when he heard the name “Operation Warp Speed” given by the Trump’s administration to the coronavirus vaccine project, he “flinched a little.” He elaborated that the name sounded “reckless” to him and that worried him. “I think there was some good intentions about using the ‘Warp Speed’, but I myself flinched a little, because I know that people might think its reckless.”

The vaccine manufactures, Fauci said, were taking immense risk while working to bring out a vaccine in an earliest manner.

In the House hearing Dr. Fauci when asked by Rep. Paul Tonko, a New York Democrat that whether he had directly advised or recommended President Trump to wear a mask in public, Dr. Anthony said that he had not “directly recommended” him to wear mask.  

Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he is not in a position to clearly comment on President Trump’s multiple reasons of not wearing a mask. But the fact that he himself wears a mask in public at all times is a clear indication that wearing mask is highly recommended.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he was not consulted with anyone from the administration regarding the decision to hold US funding to World Health Organization.

Fauci clarified that irrespective of the US funding status to WHO, NIA and CDC are in constant collaboration with the WHO, and that himself and Dr. Redfield are in daily talks with WHO officials. However, Dr. Fauci said that he was concerned with the President Trump’s decision on funding.

The key highlights of the House hearing are:

  • Covid-19 vaccine by the end of 2020 is still a possibility.
  • Dr. Fauci and Dr. Redfield were clear that despite of President’s assertion over reducing the testing, the testing will only increase.
  • Dr. Redfield urged the Americans to get the flu shot for next season’s influenza as it is potentially be simultaneously with the Covid-19.
  • Dr. Fauci said that recent surge in cases in certain parts of country is worrying. But few states like New York are fairing better now.
A tough choice for Joe Biden: Who would be his Vice-Presidential candidate?
Americas

A tough choice for Joe Biden: Who would be his Vice-Presidential candidate?

United States is gearing up for November elections and the international stage is set to witness the unfolding. These elections have the power to change world’s political dynamics as well as the equilibrium of US, as the country faces a year buffeted by COVID-19 pandemic, economic plummeting, mass protests against racial discrimination.

The Presidential candidates President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have world’s attention. Polls and primaries show Democratic candidate Biden as the front runner and clearly a favorite.

In March during his final primary Democratic candidate speech Joe Biden had pledged that his Vice President candidate would be a woman. With months passed since that and post multiple developments, Biden is yet to finalize his VP nominee and is set to announce that in August. If Biden does fulfill his promise of choosing a woman as his VP runner, it would mark the third time in US politics history where a female VP candidate was chosen. This would be four years after Hillary Clinton became the first woman Presidential candidate in American politics history.

The decision of choosing a female VP would be advantageous for Democratic party to vet the female voters, and also for Biden who was lately accused of unwanted physical advances towards women.

The favorite top contenders for Biden’s Vice Presidential runner are an interesting amalgamation of qualities and what they bring to the table.

Kamala Harris – California Senator

Kamala Harris is the candidate of choice and considered the front-runner for VP’s slot. An impressive resume with experience of US Senate, California’s Attorney General and also San Francisco’s District Attorney. She has an upper hand due to her heritage, owing to recent anti-racist protests – her mother is from India and father from Jamaica. She is also being vetted by Democrats who prefer a ‘woman of colour’ to be Biden’s VP choice.

Harris has already shown her popularity and charisma of mass appeal as she was a top-tier candidate for President last year.

With her Harris brings funding and access to California’s money. She recently raised close to $2 million for Biden in a virtual event. She is popular among Democrats for being vocal about recent police reforms advocacy. It wouldn’t be a surprise if she does end up being Joe Biden’s VP choice.

Gretchen Whitmer – Michigan Governor

Gretchen Whitmer gained popularity after pandemic hit the country and her state Michigan became one of the first hotspot in country. She openly blamed Trump administration for poorly managing the pandemic. She also imposed strict social distancing and complete economy shutdown, attracting anger of Republicans. She was a target of Trump for her criticism and thus gained favor from Democrats.

She can be a possible choice as Michigan was narrowly lost by Hillary Clinton against Trump in 2016 elections. To avoid a similar situation Whitner can be a probable VP choice.

Tammy Duckworth – Illinois Senator

Tammy’s resume skyrockets just off the page. She lost both her legs when her helicopter that she was piloting was shot down in Iraq. She retired from military and later became assistant secretary in President Barack Obama’s Department of Veteran Affairs. She won the Senate seat in 2016. She is first Thai-American woman to be elected in Congress and also first double amputee woman. In 2018 she became first woman to give birth while serving in Senate office. These off the books pointers can make her an interesting choice.

Elizabeth Warren – Massachusetts Senator

Warren once a popular face during Democratic Presidential nominee, lost her charisma few months in line. She was expected to chime in with Bernie Sanders after she dropped out from race, but refrained. This might have earned her some brownie points from the Biden team.

Tammy Baldwin – Wisconsin Senator

In 2016 elections Hillary Clinton made a blunder of never campaigning in Wisconsin and paid a heavy price of losing this important state to Trump. Democrats are being extra cautious now with announcing national convention in Milwaukee. If Biden doesn’t want to repeat that mistake, Baldwin is the best choice he has got.

Kyrsten Sinema – Arizona Senator

Democrats believe that Arizona can be the deciding state which can deliver Presidentship to Joe Biden. With Trump’s anti-immigration stance the state of Arizona seems to be drifting towards Biden. She is also an interesting choice for VP candidate – if selected she would be the first openly bisexual person on VP ticket. This can vet the LGBTQ votes too for the democrats. Her young and energetic charisma can be a welcome contrast with Biden’s often staid presence.

Val Demmings – Florida Congresswoman

She first became visible after Nancy Pelosi gave her a seat as a key impeachment managers for Donald Trump’s Senate Trial in January. This former Chief of Police from Orlando was on Biden’s radar for VP candidate long before racial justice became a top agenda post George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

Keisha Lance Bottoms – Atlanta Mayor

Bottoms became a hero in office as she openly expressed her compassion and emotions during George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis, and the protests that followed as an aftermath. She hit a string with mass being a woman of colour in office, mother of four children, and fearing for their lives being Black Americans. She can be an interesting choice for Biden’s VP ticket given current circumstances.

Joe Biden’s pick for his Vice Presential ticket is going to be an interesting feat to watch. The aftermath in response to the choice even more interesting. The November elections are going to be high voltage drama owing to current political scenario in country and the pandemic responses.

Top contenders for Biden’s Vice Presidential Runner - A tough choice for Joe Biden: Who would be his Vice-Presidential candidate?
Top Contenders For Biden’s Vice Presidential Runner
US letter to European governments: War on the web tax
Americas

US letter to European governments: War on the web tax

Relations between Europe and the United States seem close to breaking down. The spark is the new European taxes on Google, Amazon, and Facebook. Some European states and their exporters risk entering the campaign for the American presidential election in the most uncomfortable role: that of the target offered to the interest groups of the key-states for the re-election of Donald Trump.A new round of US taxes on manufacturers of Made in Italy and various other European countries is already emerging, while the break on taxation of the Big Tech giants is approaching between the two sides of the Atlantic.

A week ago, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote to his colleagues of Italy, France, United Kingdom, and Spain.The goal of Goldman Sachs’ former banker was to curb negotiations over how to tax large groups based in the States such as Google, Amazon, or Facebook on European businesses.The threat between the lines of Mnuchin’s letter to European ministers, however, is that of a financial retaliation if Italy, France, Spain, and the UK do not take a step back on the withdrawals from Big Tech decided in the budget laws already in force this’ year.

US letter - US letter to European governments: War on the web tax
Us Letter

In Mnuchin’s confidential document, the tones are final. “We have made it clear that we oppose the introduction of measures that focus only on digital companies, especially on digital services on a gross basis that fall mainly on US companies.” For the moment, however, this is what is happening. The four European governments have already triggered their web taxes on a gross basis: the levy will concern 3% of the turnover on digital services, including advertising, e-commerce, and use of data for groups of significative size.

So, the four EU governments try to recompose the paradoxical distortions that have emerged in recent years. By transferring their recorded profits across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa to Ireland. Google, for example, in the past years, has come to pay a rate of 0.2%. As for Apple, an EU Commission investigation has revealed that the levy concentrated in Ireland on European profits in 2014 was 0.005%.However, the gear of the “web taxes” of France and Italy have been designed to leave room for negotiation with the Trump administration, because it provides that the Big Techs will only pay the tax charges accrued this year in 2021.

In the next few days, the Italian minister Gualtieri with the French colleague Bruno Le Maire, the British Rishi Sunak, and the Spanish María Jesús Montero, will reply with a joint letter. But it is already clear that they will not be able to give up on already legislated measures, nor on expected budget revenues, now that the American administration is blowing up the negotiations and trying to intimidate Europeans.Therefore, the White House may publish a list of several Italian, French, British, and Spanish products in the coming months that would be affected if the four countries collect the “web tax” accrued this year at the beginning of 2021.

US: Latinos worst-hit by COVID-19, health officials alarm concerns
Americas

US: Latinos worst-hit by COVID-19, health officials alarm concerns

Novel Coronavirus is rapidly increasing among the Latino communities across America over the past few weeks. Public health experts are raising concerns that infections among Latinos are outnumbering other racial and ethnic minorities, adding there is a disproportionate share of COVID-19 cases among Latinos in nearly every state. Doctors and healthcare officials are also reportedly witnessing a rise in the hospitalization of Latino patients across the country.

In San Diego country, for instance, Latinos are being disproportionately impacted by the virus as official data suggests almost two-thirds of the total cases belong to the Latino community. In North Carolina, Latinos account for 45 percent of coronavirus cases even though they make up just 10% of the total population in the state. Health experts in Maryland and North Carolina are stating that they have witnessed a severity of infection among Latino patients than other cases.

From California to Wisconsin, Latino communities are worst-affected from the pandemic crisis. According to media reports, Latinos account for almost 34% of the total reported COVID-19 in America, which is significantly higher than any other racial and ethnic minority group. At the local and state levels, the disproportion is even more striking.

“Our community is dying,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, while speaking to local media.

At the same time, many of the US states are also missing the race and ethnicity of data of their COVID-19 cases, according to reports.

Factors such as higher exposure to the disease, lack of basic amenities, and limited access to medical care among the Latino communities are alarming concerns among the public health officials.

With the US states beginning to reopen their business operations, health officials are asserting that the disease can pose more threat to the communities if adequate steps such as targeted contract tracing are not taken by the administration.

Notedly, Latinos largely work in essential service jobs such as hospitality, construction, and meat processing plants. Amid surging infection, Latino workers are also reportedly facing discrimination in meat processing plants and warehouses after they contracted the virus. Dozens of Latinos in the US have been infected with the virus and many have died due to poor health and safety protocols at the warehouses. Due to fear of contractions, many workers are dealing with racism at their workplaces. Meat-processing plants and warehouses have been operating across all parts of the country amid pandemic lockdown.

Lack of paid sick leave and the need for salaries to survive families have been forcing the Latino workers to return to their jobs due to which they are becoming more exposed to the virus. Many of the people who may contract the disease do not visit the hospital fearing high cost or potential concerns of deportation. This fear is prominent among those living in mixed-status families or undocumented immigrants.

With 2.27 million Coronavirus infected cases, the United States is the worst-hit country in the world. More than 1.21 lakh people have died due to the disease.

All Trump’s problems with social networks
Americas

All Trump’s problems with social networks

The President of the United States is having several problems managing his social networks.After the controversy over ‘non-interventionism’ against U.S. President Donald Trump, Facebook partially changes course.The social network has canceled an election spot in Trump’s campaign for violating the rules that prohibit hate speech.“We do not allow symbols representing organizations and ideologies inspired by hatred without being contextualized or condemned”. Facebook said, removing the spots of his electoral campaign, which contains Nazi symbols and instigation to hate.

Trump Facebook - All Trump's problems with social networks
Trump Facebook

Among the symbols used in the advertisements published by the official accounts of the president and his deputy, Mike Pence, there would be one that recalls those adopted by the Nazis to mark the uniforms delivered to the Jews in the Auschwitz camp: an inverted red triangle.The symbol, which was used by the Nazi regime to indicate all political opponents, appeared in the electoral message signed by Team Trump.

The post was an attack against the dangerous criminals of far-left groups. The Trump’ staff was inviting Republican supporters to sustain the battle of the president against Antifa, the group of anti-fascist anarchists.Trump’s campaign defended itself, arguing that the inverted red triangle was a symbol used by Antifa. A few hours later, the President of the United States was subjected to another complaint, this time by Twitter.Trump posted on Twitter a revised version of a popular video on social media, in which a white and a black boy run to meet to embrace each other. In the President’s video, however, the white guy chasing the black one, with the inscription: terrified child runs away from a racist child.Twitter censored the president, reporting it as manipulated content.The president’s goal was, in theory, to make his followers aware of fake news.

Canada sticks to two meter Guideline for physical distancing but not mask
Americas

Canada sticks to two meter Guideline for physical distancing but not mask

Following the physical distancing guidelines to keep clear off contracting the corona virus is now becoming an ‘urban challenge’. Many countries are now contesting the idea of whether to keep the two meter distance is a viable option for the general public.

England for example has been debating it and there has been pressure on the government to relax the 2 meter WHO prescribed distancing protocol by travel lobby. Apart from Canada, most nations are cheating, giving away a few centimeters here or there to the prescribed distance protocol.

According to trusted sources, the United States has gone ahead with 1.8 metres, while Italy and Germany are agreeing on 1.5 metres. The most dangerous game being played is by China and France that have done with merely a meter of social distancing gap.

A minimum of 6 feet or 2 meters distance has been prescribed to ensure there is no spread of the virus from one person to the other. It is not just use of masks that can prevent the spread of the virus, but the physical distancing norm when maintained ensure the human moisture does not travel easily amongst persons.  However studies have shown that it is not just distance but also the time and duration of contact that matters when it comes to spreading the virus.

 However, some scientist differ that the two meter distance protocol isn’t written in stone and that there are other viruses that can travel through 7-8 meters as well amongst human beings. The Canadian Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam acknowledges that there’s still much to learn about the virus and that guidelines will be adjusted accordingly as more evidence is reviewed. Quebec has relaxed its two meter social distancing guideline for children below the age of 16 years, including places like day camps and schools as they resume from June 22. Strangely, the National public health guidelines were updated in May to recommend wearing a mask when it is not possible to “consistently maintain” a two-metre distance from others. But the Canadian government has not  made wearing  a mask mandatory, despite growing calls from doctors, such as a group in Ontario, to do so.

New protests in America, now Atlanta on fire
Americas

New protests in America, now Atlanta on fire

America is on fire again. It is in Atlanta, Georgia, the new outbreak of the uprising that began over two weeks ago in Minneapolis after the killing of African American George Floyd a few moments after his arrest.The new guerrilla icon bears the name of Rashard Brooks, 27, also an African American, killed after a violent brawl with the police during the attempted arrest.

Dozens of people gather at the accident site, a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant, to ask for justice. The restaurant is set on fire, while demonstrators blocked the highway around the city. Thousands of angry people took the square, asking for the dismissal of the agent Garrett Rolfe and the suspension of his colleague Devin Brosnan.

The words of Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who condemned the unjustified use of lethal force, and the resignation of police chief Erika Shields also fall on deaf ears. The protests burn America all after the Minneapolis drama. Anger and demonstrations are legitimate. A man was killed in a restaurant parking lot, Stacey Abrams, the Democrat who ran to become governor of Georgia said.

New videos of the incident continue to spread on the web, showing Brooks talking in a friendly tone with the agents: “I had a few glasses, it’s my daughter’s birthday …”, says the African American after being tested positive for alcohol.”I can walk home, I don’t want to violate any rules,” he adds. Then the tones change. The agents try to handcuff him, he protests and steal the taser they tried to use against him, from one of the policemen.

High tension moments, then Brooks with the electric shock gun in his hand walks away. The next images show the policeman chasing him, the three gunshots fired, and Brooks on the ground. The man was supposed to celebrate his eldest daughter’s birthday on Saturday by taking her to skate. But the eight-year-old girl waited in vain for her father.Unfortunately, the birthday turned into a day of mourning.

Rudolph Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York and personal lawyer for Donald Trump, believes that the conduct of the agents of Atlanta is justified and adds that the case seems decidedly different from that of Floyd. Cory Booker, an African American senator from New Jersey, invites to seize the moment of protests to act, and to do it bipartisan. But Congress is not on the same line: Democrats are aiming for a profound reform of US police, while Republicans propose targeted interventions. From the White House, celebrating Donald Trump’s 74 years, only silence.

Chokehold Practice: Should be ‘generally’ banned, says President Trump
Americas

Chokehold Practice: Should be ‘generally’ banned, says President Trump

Amid raging public anger over the death of George Floyd in the US, President Donald Trump said that chokehold should “generally” be banned.

When quizzed about his thoughts on chokehold in an interview with Fox News, the President said the concept is “so innocent, so perfect.”

The controversial chokehold of any suspect by the US Police has generated a lot of debate in America and elsewhere. African American George Floyd was killed when a police officer sat on his neck, which triggered protests across the US, demanding a ban on chokehold use.

The protesters are seeking an end to racism and asking for equality.

President Trump expressed his concern that the method should be used only in limited cases.

While speaking to the TV channel, the President added that the tactic might be useful when an officer is dealing with a suspected criminal one-on-one. President Trump has reservations when the tactic is used when there are “two-on-one.”

When the President was asked about what level chokehold should be banned, Trump said that in “some cases,” the law prohibiting the practice should come from local authorities. He also added that the federal government would make “strong recommendations about then tactics.”

While the tactic can disable a person to counterattack, it can also kill the person.

Last month, 46-year old Floyd died in Minneapolis after the police knelt on his neck for nine minutes. His death in custody triggered angry protests across the US and other parts of the world. Protests against racism on all social media platforms.

Another African American Eric Garner died similarly in 2014 in New York.

States and local governments are going ahead with banning the practice.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo yesterday outlawed the practice. The new state also introduced police reforms, which includes police officers to wear body cameras and disciplinary details of police officers, firefighters, and correction officers to be made public.  

Democrat lawmakers have tabled a bill in the Congress, seeking police reforms, reducing police atrocities and end racial practice.

However, Republicans are yet to announce any support to the bill. President Trump has not commented on any sweeping police reforms.

Trump struggling with new sanctions while coronavirus cases increase in the U.S.
Americas

Trump struggling with new sanctions while coronavirus cases increase in the U.S.

The United States recorded over two million cases of coronavirus:  exactly 2,009,238. The contagions increase in at least 21 states in the last 48 hours. So far, the deaths in the US are 113,341, from the beginning of the pandemic. According to Johns Hopkins University, the COVID-19 cases in the world are 7,432,275 and 418,203 the deaths.Daily cases of contagion continue to remain high, and in particular in some states in recent weeks they are still growing.

Despite this, all states have relaxed the restrictive measures imposed to counter the spread of the virus. The state of New York, which was the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic, has left the lockdown phase on Monday, starting to reopen business activities. President Donald Trump has also announced that from June 19 he will resume his rally for the election campaign with the presence of the public.

According to the New York Times, after the weekend of May 25, daily cases of contagion have increased in Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Utah, and Arizona. In particular, COVID-19 patients who must undergo medical treatment have increased in these states.The number of contagious has grown with that of hospitalizations in the past two weeks. Although the latter is difficult to track because states register and communicate differently, or do not communicate them at all.

According to the Washington Post, the cause of this proliferation of contagions is in the crowds, following the reopening which coincided in many states with the weekend of May 25, coinciding with the Memorial Day, on which in the United States of America commemorate the fallen American soldiers of all wars.In those days, thousands of Americans moved to the resorts of the States most affected today such as Lake Havasu, a popular tourist destination in Arizona, or visited the zoos, aquariums, and water parks in South Carolina.

Despite the health emergency, President Trump continues to focus on the sanctions that characterize his foreign policy. On Thursday, he issued an executive order authorizing US sanctions against International Criminal Court employees involved in an investigation into whether American forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan. The investigation is “being pushed forward by an organization of dubious integrity”, a White House official said, referring to the Hague-based ICC and accusing Russia of having a role.

The order authorizes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in consultation with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, to block assets in the United States of ICC employees involved in the probe, according to a letter sent by Trump to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi accompanying the order.It also authorizes Pompeo to block entry into the United States of these individuals.ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wants to investigate possible crimes committed between 2003 and 2014, including alleged mass killings of civilians by the Taliban, as well as the alleged torture of prisoners by Afghan authorities and, to a lesser extent, by US forces and the CIA.

In the same way, Trump announced new sanctions on Iran and Syria. A group representing over 140 Republican representatives called on Wednesday for US Congress to implement its toughest sanctions yet on Iran, whose “rogue regime” remains “extremely dangerous.”The Republican Study Committee put forth a detailed proposal outlining policy suggestions related to Iran, Russia, China, and other countries it deemed pose a threat to the US.The proposal, authored by 13 members of the caucus, recommends Congress put in place new measures to respond to “strategic threats” China and Russia, as well as Iran in order to stop its “support of terrorism, destabilizing behaviour in the region, development of ballistic missiles, and nuclear program.”

Brazil restores COVID-19 data after outcry
Americas

Brazil restores COVID-19 data after outcry

Over the weekend, the Brazilian administration took down comprehensive statistics related to coronavirus in the country, leading to accusations of data manipulation.

After a Supreme Court directive, Brazil on Tuesday restored the COVID-19 statistics that it had taken down from its health ministry website over the weekend. On Friday, the site was taken down and it reappeared on Saturday without crucial numbers relating to those already infected and killed by the virus.

There was an immediate outcry against the government for hiding this data, which coupled with President Jair Bolsonaro’s blasé attitude to the pandemic seemed to indicate the government was trying to suppress the severity of the outbreak.

Last week, there was controversy around a statement made by a government contractor that the data needed to be audited as it was possible that states were reporting higher numbers in order to secure more funding.

On Sunday, the government released two separate figures of daily deaths, initially announcing it to be 1,382 which was then revised to 525, reportedly according to a new methodology. Though details of these calculations were not revealed, the government had said that it would help give a “more realistic snapshot” of the situation in the country.

Brazil has recorded the highest total numbers of cases in the world after the United States and leads the globe in daily deaths tally. On Tuesday evening, the website reported 739,503 total cases and 38,406 deaths so far. In the past 24 hours, the country recorded 32,091 new infections and 1,272 deaths. But despite expert advice to not do so, many important states like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have started partially reopening, leading to fears of a further surge in cases. In Rio, shopping centres and bars would have open if not for a court injunction denying permission to do so. The disappearance of the numbers, which would be critical in judging the impact of these moves, irked many lawmakers and health experts.

Already the President has been criticised for not taking the virus seriously and in fact trying to undermine some of the efforts taken by the state governors by asking them to ease lockdowns in order to revive the economy. He is known to have referred to the virus as a “measly flu” and has encouraged mass rallies of supporters in defiance of social distancing norms. Two health ministers have quit in as many months after allegations that the president was refusing to listen even to experts in his own government.

The latest move was heavily decried by the Supreme Court which said it was done to avoid facts and create a parallel narrative that would make monitoring of cases and decision-making difficult. This was a tool of totalitarian regimes, one judge said, adding that tricks like this wouldn’t “absolve the government from eventual genocide”. On Monday night, supreme court justice Alexandre de Moraes gave the administration 48 hours to “fully re-establish the daily dissemination of epidemiological data on the COVID-19 pandemic”.

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