Brazil’s coronavirus case count surpasses Germany’s as President Jair Bolsonaro fights to open gyms, beauty parlors

Confirmed coronavirus case tally in Brazil surpassed Germany’s as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro fights states over his wish to reopen gyms and beauty parlors even as his country becomes a new global hotspot for the pandemic.

Brazil has confirmed 177,602 cases since its outbreak began in late February, passing Germany’s 173,171 confirmed cases and drawing nearly even with France’s tally of 178,348 confirmed and probable cases.

While Europe is beginning to lift the lockdown as the death toll in the region eases, the outbreak is still accelerating in Brazil. Bolsonaro has played down the risks of the disease and criticized state governments’ isolation orders.

Brazil recorded its deadliest day yet on Tuesday, with 881 confirmed deaths in 24 hours from the COVID-19 respiratory disease caused by the virus.

Bolsonaro has ratcheted up his dispute with state governors this week, with a decree classifying businesses such as gyms and hair salons as “essential” services, exempt from lockdowns.

The right-wing president has argued that the economic damage from closing businesses is worse than the disease.

“Governors who do not agree with the decree can file lawsuits in court,” Mr Bolsonaro wrote on social media.

He later threatened to take his own legal actions against them if they do not comply.

At least 10 governors said they would not follow the decree.

“Bolsonaro is walking toward the precipice and wants to take all of us with him,” Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel said on Twitter.