Brazil hits 100,000 coronavirus death toll under an "inefficient and disoriented" government, official legal investigation urged

Published: 9th August 2020

Today the tally of COVID-19 deaths has surpassed 100,000 in Brazil ―the second country in the world to do so after the United States― with many of these deaths avoidable but for the Brazilian government’s inefficient and disoriented response to the pandemic.

Oxfam Brazil and the Brazilian Institute of Consumer Protection (IDEC), as part of a national civil society campaign, petitioned the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office and the Public Prosecutor's Office of the Federal Court of Accounts on 28 July to investigate the “countless” flaws in the government’s response and take immediate action to rectify it.

“This is a shameful day for Brazil. We can no longer witness our government’s lack of action in the face of mass coronavirus death. We stand in solidarity with other Brazilian organizations in invoking the power of law to intervene and hold this government to account,” said Katia Maia, Executive Director of Oxfam Brazil.

The current government has failed in following World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations to contain the spread of the coronavirus, including good hygiene practices and social distancing. The government has not delivered the necessary complementary measures of ensuring that its most vulnerable citizens also had access to water, food and other essential resources for self-care. 

There has been no Minister of Health since May and no nationwide coordination to support marginalized people, indigenous people, and other traditional communities such as the Afro-Brazilian Quilombo. This results in the tragic numbers of 100,000 deaths and almost 3 million contaminated that Brazil reached today.

“We cannot accept the government's failure to respond to the pandemic. Many government actions could have been taken to avoid the numbers we are reaching today. The Public Prosecutor's Office must carry out the necessary investigation,” said Teresa Liporace, Executive Director of IDEC. 

The pandemic in Brazil has hit the black population and those living in poverty disproportionately harder, reinforcing the country's immense inequalities. Black Brazilians with no schooling are four times as likely to die from COVID-19 than white Brazilians.

Around 11 million Brazilians or 6 percent of the population live in slums, in precarious, overcrowded and poorly ventilated spaces, and without access to basic sanitation. Around 35 million Brazilians do not have an adequate water supply service and almost 100 million do not have access to sewage. Under these conditions, they are much more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Notes to editors

In May 2020, a group of civil society organizations issued a public warning (ALERTA) about the Brazilian government’s inaction and responsibility for the tragic and preventable COVID-19 deaths. Thousands of organizations and Brazilian citizens have signed the manifesto and petition

Oxfam Brazil, IDEC, INESC, OAB, Amnesty International Brazil, ABI, the Archdiocese of São Paulo’s Santo Dias Center for Human Rights, the Indigenist Missionary Council, Ethos Institute, SBPC and many other organizations are part of ALERTA.

Contact information

Jorge Cordeiro in Brazil | | 55 11 98459-0142

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