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Brazil could face "economic collapse" in a month's time due to stay-at-home measures to stem the coronavirus outbreak, with food shortages and "social disorder," Economy Minister Paulo Guedes warned Thursday.
Brazil, Latin America's biggest economy, is also the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the region.
But far-right President Jair Bolsonaro — who appeared alongside Guedes, his free-market economics guru — opposes stay-at-home measures to slow the virus, saying they are unnecessarily damaging the economy.
"Within about 30 days, there may start to be shortages on (store) shelves and production may become disorganized, leading to a system of economic collapse, of social disorder," Guedes said.
"This is a serious alert."
Bolsonaro, who has compared the new coronavirus to a "little flu," said he understood "the virus problem" and believed that "we must save lives."
"But there is a problem that's worrying us more and more… and that's the issue of jobs, of the stalled economy," Bolsonaro added.
"Fighting the virus shouldn't do more damage than the virus itself."
Bolsonaro regularly flouts social distancing measures, hitting the streets in Brasilia and working the crowd in close quarters at rallies of his supporters.
Supreme Court battle
Bolsonaro and Guedes made the comments after paying an unscheduled visit to the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Dias Toffoli.
The court recently decided that state and local authorities have the right to determine what social distancing measures to take to contain the spread of the virus, ruling against Bolsonaro's government, which wants to lift many of the regulations.
Brazil has been hit hard by the pandemic, with more than 135,000 cases and 9,146 deRead More – Source