Marcelo Queiroga is the fourth Minister of Health in a South American country hit hard since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has confirmed his fourth minister of health since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the South American country recorded a new one-day record of coronavirus deaths.
Bolsonaro, a coronavirus skeptic who continues to reject public health restrictions and lockdowns despite a recent surge in coronavirus infections, signed a decree on Tuesday appointing cardiologist Marcelo Queiroga to the post of Minister of Health.
Queiroga replaces Army General Eduardo Pazuello, criticized for his lack of experience in public health.
“The new minister meets the technical requirements and has the flawless reputation required for the post, with extensive experience not only in health care but also in management,” the health ministry said in a statement.
Brazil recorded 3,251 more coronavirus deaths on Tuesday – a new record – as the country continues to face an increase infections that has pushed hospitals and other health care facilities to their limits.
The country has reported more than 12 million cases of COVID-19 to date, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, as well as more than 295,000 deaths.
Bolsonaro is increasingly criticized for the ongoing crisis, but the far-right president has maintained his anti-lockdown stance, telling Brazilians that these measures worsen poverty.
Despite recent high rates of infections, some Brazilians have protested against local and regional COVID-19 lockdown measures that aim to stem the spread of the virus.
Brazil’s Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to hear Bolsonaro’s appeal against coronavirus-related measures in several states restricting economic activity, according to a document seen by the Reuters news agency.
Queiroga told reporters last week that he plans to follow Bolsonaro’s plan to fight the virus.
“Minister Pazuello has worked hard to improve health conditions in Brazil and I was invited by President Bolsonaro to continue this work,” he said last week.
Brazilian authorities launched a preliminary investigation in Bolsonaro and Pazuello last month on their management of a crisis in the city of Manaus, who ran out of oxygen amid an increase in infections earlier this year.
The rollout of vaccines in the country has also been marred by inefficiencies, which has aroused public anger.
The Fiocruz Institute, which produces the AstraZeneca vaccine, said on Tuesday it would deliver just 18.8 million jabs in April, against an initial forecast of 30 million.
According to a Fiocruz survey, only 2.6% of Brazilian adults have so far received two doses of the vaccine, while 7.6% of the population, or 12.1 million people, have received a single vaccine.
Brazilian officials also said oxygen for coronavirus patients was at “worrying” levels in six of the country’s 27 states.
Meanwhile, Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), warned that “the virus continues to surge dangerously through Brazil”.
“Cases and deaths are on the rise and the occupancy rate of ICU beds is very high in many states. This is critical
so that all Brazilians adopt the preventive measures put in place to slow down transmission
the virus. It can save your life and that of your loved ones, ”she said during a press briefing.
She also said the situation in Brazil was affecting neighboring countries, with an increase in COVID-19 cases in Venezuela – especially in that country’s border states, Bolivar and Amazonas – and in Peru.