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Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Adriano Machado/Reuters

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Adriano Machado/Reuters

REUTERS

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Adriano Machado/Reuters

Brazil's hard-right president has been warned by infectious disease specialists that his strategy for tackling the coronavirus will lead to the "total collapse" of the country's health system.

Jair Bolsonaro, often dubbed the "Trump of the Tropics", has become a global outlier in his continuing efforts to downplay the severity of the pandemic, despite the country's mounting death toll, which has more than doubled in the past four days.

He has dismissed Covid-19 as the "sniffles" and stressed that saving the country's economy should take precedence over the public health emergency.

As of yesterday morning, Brazil had recorded 327 coronavirus deaths, but reports of overcrowded cemeteries in Sao Paulo, the country's biggest city, suggest the actual numbers may be far higher.

Dr Jamal Suleiman, an infectious disease specialist, claimed the situation in Brazil had already reached a critical level. "The tsunami has already started, what we need to do now is run for higher ground," he said.

Dr Suleiman believes that the solution to the crisis would involve removing Mr Bolsonaro from power. "The only way out is to have this president committed," he said.

Mr Bolsonaro is the only leader of a major country still playing down the gravity of the Covid-19 pandemic. Urging that "Brazil must return to normality", he has proposed that only the over-60s and those with prior health conditions should be isolated.

In a fiery Facebook Live video on Thursday night, Mr Bolsonaro clashed again with leaders of state governments. "Ban people from going to the beach? My God!" he said. "What are they thinking? That this is some kind of dictatorship!" (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk