Grim Covid-19 milestone marked on Copacabana beach

RIO DE JANEIRO, 1 May 2021:

Activists yesterday paid tribute on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach to Covid-19 victims after the official death toll in Brazil – one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic – surpassed the 400,000 mark.

The non-governmental organisation Rio de Paz conducted the event in protest over rightist president Jair Bolsonaro’s management of the health emergency – which has left more people dead in the first four months of 2021 than during all of last year.

Members of that NGO lined up 400 body bags on the beach to symbolise the 400,000 deaths attributed to Covid-19, a grim milestone that was reached on Thursday.

“It’s a reproduction of … the current moment in our history,” said Rio de Paz president Antonio Carlos Costa.

The country’s first coronavirus fatality was registered on 12 March 2020 and in just over 13 months, the death toll has climbed to 401,186.

The South American country accounts for nearly 13% of the coronavirus deaths registered worldwide even though its population of roughly 210 million is less than 3% of the global total.

Brazil has the second-highest number of Covid-19 deaths worldwide after the US and the third-most confirmed coronavirus cases after the US and India, which is currently the epicentre of the pandemic.

“These are facts that weren’t fabricated by the media, and it’s humiliating for our democracy. Remaining silent at this time is to be complicit in crimes committed by Brazil’s governing class,” Costa said.

“The federal government has made a lot of mistakes since the onset of the pandemic. It downplayed the deadly power of the virus, didn’t provide the country with a plan at the national level and prescribed medications with no scientific evidence whatsoever.”

Bolsonaro, who survived a bout with Covid-19 last year, famously dismissed Covid-19 as a “measly flu” while also flouting social distancing recommendations and railing at Brazil’s governors for imposing lockdown measures in their states.

Earlier this month, however, he shifted from denying the seriousness of Covid-19 to labelling it as “practically impossible” to eradicate.