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Brazil Health Minister says his ‘replacement’ is being discussed amid Covid-19 crisis

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President Jair Bolsonaro “is thinking of a replacement,” Pazuello told a news conference Monday, stressing it was not his idea.

“I didn’t ask to leave, I won’t either. It’s not in my character. When the president asks, we will make a correct transition as is tradition,” he added.

Pazuello, an army general who had no medical experience before leading the Brazilian Covid-19 response, it has recently faced strong criticism for vaccine shortages and oxygen shortages earlier this year in Manaus, the state capital of the Amazon.

Brazil is now facing the worst of the Covid-19 crisis since the start of the pandemic. As of Monday, a total of at least 279,286 people had died from the virus. The country’s hospitals are flooded, with intensive care rooms in 22 of the 26 Brazilian states that are about to be reached.

Cardiologist Ludhmila Hajjar told CNN Brazil, a CNN affiliate, that she was approached for the job, but that she was not doing well. She was invited by Bolsonaro to the Presidential Palace on Saturday and spoke with him for hours on two occasions, he said.

“We had two days of conversation, but unfortunately it is not the time for me to be a minister, mainly for technical reasons. I am a doctor, a scientist (…) This is above any ideology, any expectation that is not. guided by science, ”Hajjar said.

Bolsonaro, who has long downplayed the severity of the virus, has also advocated the use of unproven drugs such as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to cure Covid-19, although there are several studies showing that they are not effective. He has also pressured local officials to avoid blockades and restrictive measures, arguing for the health of the economy.

His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Brazilian Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello has denied reports that he will resign.

Brazil’s health ministry has experienced a turbulent sequence of leadership since the beginning of the pandemic.

The initial Minister of Health, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, a doctor who advocated measures of social distance, was fired by Bolsonaro in April 2020 for disagreements over the country’s pandemic strategy.

Hajjar was considered for his role at the time, but was replaced by oncologist Nelson Teich, who resigned less than a month due to differences with Bolsonaro.

In May 2020, Teich was replaced by Pazuello, who at the time was best known for coordinating army troops during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and leading an operation to manage the influx of Venezuelan migrants from the United States. 2018.

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