Brazil government ad rejects coronavirus lockdowns, saying #BrazilCannotStop

A volunteer carries donated aid for poor families at the Rocinha slum as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak continues in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil March 27, 2020. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s federal government launched an advertising campaign against social distancing measures to fight the coronavirus outbreak, the latest flashpoint in a battle between President Jair Bolsonaro and state governors trying to stop the virus’ spread.

The “#BrazilCannotStop” television ad – featuring a slogan similar to a campaign in Milan before deaths in Italy soared – shows scenes of crowded classrooms and street markets.

“For the neighborhood salesmen, for the shop owners in city centers, for domestic employees, for millions of Brazilians, Brazil cannot stop,” the ad said.

Defying public health experts, Bolsonaro has argued for reopening schools and putting Brazilians back to work, scoffing at “hysteria” surrounding the virus he calls “a little flu.”

His position has undermined measures taken by state governors and city mayors to ban non-essential commercial activities and public services to contain the outbreak.

Confirmed coronavirus cases in the country jumped to 3,417 on Friday from 1,891 on Monday, as related deaths climbed to 92, according to the Health Ministry. Bolsonaro has suggested the economic costs of lockdowns are more deadly.

Brazil’s central bank on Friday called for emergency bond-buying powers in line with ‘quantitative easing’ policies in other countries, while unveiling a 40 billion reais ($8 billion) credit line to help smaller companies with payroll.

Economy Minister Paulo Guedes also said the government will offer 45 billion reais to self-employed and informal workers, adding that all the government’s coronavirus-fighting measures will total 700 billion reais over three months.

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