A Brazilian Supreme Court justice has ordered the government to resume publication of full Covid-19 data, including the cumulative death toll, following allegations that officials were trying to hide the severity of the pandemic in Latin America’s biggest country.
Justice Alexandre de Moraes said the government of President Jair Bolsonaro is obliged to provide necessary information to Brazilian citizens, days after the Health Ministry scrubbed the cumulative death toll from coronavirus from its website.
Mr de Moraes said in his decision that the gravity of the pandemic, which has killed more than 37,000 Brazilians, requires transparency from the government as the country shapes policies to curb the virus.
Brazil’s health ministry stopped publishing the number of Covid-19 deaths and confirmed cases on Friday. The restriction, announced after evening news programmes had ended, generated widespread criticism.
Gilmar Mendes, another Supreme Court justice, said on Saturday that manipulation of data is a tactic of authoritarian regimes and that hiding the numbers would not exempt the government from responsibility for the pandemic’s heavy toll in Brazil.
Facing intense criticism, a top Health Ministry official told reporters on Monday night that officials would restore the cumulative death toll to its website, but with changes to the methodology for how daily totals are tallied.
On Tuesday afternoon, health minister Eduardo Pazuello told a congressional committee that the ministry will restore complete data on the pandemic to its website within 48 hours, and said the government is committed to transparency.