Brazil marked 50 days without an official health minister on Saturday as a coronavirus pandemic that infected more than 1.5 million of its citizens and killed at least 63,000 continued to hit the country.
The position has been temporarily filled by Army General Eduardo Pazzuello, who has no medical experience since the last health minister, Nelson Teich, resigned on May 15th.
Teich, who spent less than a month on duty, left amid criticism from President Jair Bolsonar that he was “too shaky to reopen the economy and advocate for the use of chloroquine.” Teich did not state the reason for his resignation.
Teich’s predecessor, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who advocated measures of social distancing and the use of masks, fired Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro, who often defies the social distancing guidelines recommended by most health professionals and dismisses the virus as a “small flu,” is often criticized for reducing the virus’s severity.
Bolsonaro vetoed parts of a law Friday requiring them to wear masks in public during a pandemic. The use of masks in shopping malls, shops, religious temples, educational institutions and other closed places where people gather will no longer be mandatory, but some states and municipalities may implement these measures.
Brazil has the second largest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the world after the United States.