President Jair Bolsonaro has responded to the increase in Brazil's COVID-19 deaths by telling his countrymen to quit fretting about it. "Enough fussing and whining. How much longer will the crying go on?" Bolsonaro told an audience Thursday, Reuters reports. "How much longer will you stay at home and close everything? No one can stand it anymore. We regret the deaths, again, but we need a solution." Brazil recorded 75,102 new coronavirus cases Thursday, the most since July. There were 1,699 deaths the same day, officials said, which was slightly lower than the record-high two days before that. The nation's COVID-19 death toll for the past year is second only to that of the US. And the situation in Brazil is worsening.
Bolsonaro, who has had the coronavirus, has played down the danger of the pandemic all along. His government has been in no hurry to provide vaccinations; less than 3.5% of the population has had a shot. The hospital system is at its limit, and new variants are causing worry. A mutation that seems to have originated in the Amazon region appears to be more contagious, with the ability to reinfect those who have already recovered from COVID-19. “We are experiencing the worst outlook for the pandemic since it started," a Brazilian expert said. A Washington Post editorial said Brazil is putting the rest of the world at risk by becoming a breeding ground for new strains. "If Brazil does not control the virus," an American epidemiologist said, "it will be the largest open laboratory in the world for the virus to mutate." (Read more Jair Bolsonaro stories.)