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Coronavirus 'concern overblown'

March 26, 2020 00:00:00

RIO DE JANEIRO, Mar 25 (AP): President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday stuck with his contention that concern about the new coronavirus is overblown, and accused Brazilian media of trying to stoke nationwide hysteria.

Bolsonaro said in a nationally televised address that the media had seized on the death toll in Italy, which he said is suffering so severely because of its elderly population and colder climate.

"The virus arrived, we are confronting it, and it will pass shortly. Our lives have to continue, jobs should be maintained," the president said.

Bolsonaro added that certain Brazilian states should abandon their "scorched earth" policy of prohibiting public transport, closing business and schools, and calling for mass confinement at home for their residents.

He did say people should be "extremely worried" about transmitting the virus to others, particularly to parents and grandparents.

As he spoke, some Brazilians who are home in self-isolation protested what they view his blase attitude toward the pandemic by leaning from their windows to bang pots and pans.

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