Brazil to probe Bolsonaro's COVID response

·1-min read

Brazil's Senate has launched a probe into President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The congressional investigation, known by its Portuguese acronym as a CPI, can result in a number of actions, including the referral of possible wrongdoing to law enforcement.

In practice, the inquiry is a political headache for Bolsonaro, who is already facing record disapproval amid Brazil's worst coronavirus wave.

Senate leader Rodrigo Pacheco said on Tuesday a congressional inquiry into the federal response to the pandemic would be combined with a probe into how federal resources were distributed to states.

The COVID-19 pandemic is pushing Brazil's medical system to the limit in many parts of the country, partly due to the so-called P1 variant, which many medical experts believe is particularly infectious and deadly.

Some 3808 Brazilians died of COVID-19 on Tuesday alone, according to Health Ministry data, bringing the total death toll to over 358,000, the second-highest in the world behind the United States.

Bolsonaro has drawn widespread criticism for his approach to the coronavirus, which he has described as a "little flu".

He has repeatedly ignored calls of health experts to wear masks and railed against the use of lockdown measures.

Angered by attempts to have him investigated, Bolsonaro has blasted lawmakers.

A Supreme Court judge ruled last week that enough senators had backed an inquiry into the government's pandemic response to launch the probe despite stalling by Senate leadership.