KEY POINTS

  • Jair Bolsonaro is in the midst of an ideological battle with governors and mayors in his country advocating social distancing
  • The posts consisted of videos of Bolsonaro descending on the streets, mixing with vendors urging them to keep the economy going amid the COVID-19 outbreak
  • He feared the unemployment rate spiking in the country as a result of prolonged quarantine

Twitter removed Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s two tweets Sunday casting doubt on the need for his government’s enforcement of social distancing measures amid the coronavirus outbreak. The social media platform replaced the posts with a notice citing they had violated its global rules on public health information from official sources and could put people at greater risk of transmitting COVID-19.

The tweets consisted of videos of Bolsonaro taking to the streets, mixing with supporters and urging them to keep the economy going in an outright rejection of safety rules. In one of the deleted videos, he was heard telling a vendor, “People want to work and they should be allowed to, that is what I have been telling from the beginning. People should be careful and over 65s should stay at home.''

In another video, he seemed to have been expressing his concern about the unemployment rate in the country escalating given the long quarantine is in place.

"If it continues like this, with the amount of unemployment what we will have later is a very serious problem that will take years to be resolved," he said.

Bolsonaro fanned controversy earlier after flouting the rules to stay home to curb coronavirus spread in the country. He, in fact, picked up an ideological battle with Brazilian governors and mayors who have enforced quarantine measures even though some members of his inner circle had fallen ill, Reuters reported.

Bolsonaro went on to defend his stance in a television interview on Friday and said “I’m sorry, some people will die, they will die, that’s life, ”adding that a car factory should not be shut down on the pretext of traffic deaths.

As many as 4,256 cases have been reported in the country as of Monday, with 136 total deaths, according to Johns Hopkins website.