BRASILIA – The Minister of Health, Marcelo Queiroga, met with members of the transition team of president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) this Wednesday, the 23rd, at the portfolio’s headquarters, in Brasília. Amid the rise in cases and hospitalizations due to covid-19 in the country, members of the Jair Bolsonaro (PL) government participated in the meeting without a mask. The PT group put on protective equipment.
Former Health Ministers of PT governments José Gomes Temporão, Arthur Chioro, Alexandre Padilha (federal deputy for São Paulo) and Humberto Costa (senator for Pernambuco) sat next to Queiroga. The petistas were wearing a mask. The current minister, no.
Photos and videos released by the PT’s transition team show that members of the group took off their masks at one point during the meeting. The images indicate that the Ministry of Health team was without protective equipment.
About four out of every 10 Covid-19 tests taken in the last week were positive, as shown by data from the Brazilian Association of Diagnostic Medicine (Abramed). There were more than 54,000 tests, both of the PCR and antigen types, carried out between November 5th and 11th. Positivity and number of confirmations are still far from what was seen at the beginning of the year, when the Omicron variant appeared.
In recent days, the country has faced a new rise in infections associated with Omicron subvariants. Among them the BQ.1which has already been identified in at least four states, and the BE.9, discovered in the Amazon. With the resurgence of infections, experts highlight the need to update anti-covid vaccination and guide the use of a mask for the most vulnerable people.
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Throughout the pandemic, Bolsonaro promoted agglomerations and acted against the use of masks to prevent the spread of the disease. The president also said he had not been vaccinated against covid. At an event, in December last year, in Planalto, he said that it was “forbidden to wear a mask”.
On June 7, Queiroga stated that the mandatory use of masks was “unreasonable”, since Brazil was no longer experiencing a Public Health Emergency of National Importance. “We cannot give up individual freedoms,” he said at the time.
The National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) made it mandatory this Tuesday, 22, the use of masks against covid-19 in airports and planes. From Friday the 25th, passengers will have to use protective equipment in terminals and on flights.
Federal deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro (PL-SP) said this Wednesday, 23, that the decision is “imbecile”. The son of President Jair Bolsonaro informed his followers on Twitter that he was filing a Bill of Legislative Decree “to stop the effects of this imbecility coming from Anvisa”.
The adoption of non-pharmacological measures, such as the use of a mask, was addressed by Anvisa in a meeting with epidemiologists, health specialists and representatives of the National Council of Health Secretaries (Conass) and the National Council of Municipal Health Secretaries (Conasems) . The meeting on the covid scenario took place virtually this Monday, 21.
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Anvisa had made it mandatory to wear masks at airports in December 2020, at the height of one of the waves of covid in the country. The agency relaxed the measure in August this year, about a year and eight months after the start of the charge. Three months ago, protective equipment became “a recommendation, especially for people with flu symptoms and for the most vulnerable public, such as immunocompromised people, pregnant women and the elderly”.