The Brazil government on Tuesday restored the cumulative tally of the coronavirus deaths and infections in the country, a day after a Supreme Court ruling, AFP reported. The top court asked the government to return to its old format amid widespread criticism for withholding data.

On June 5, Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro’s government took down the website where it had been reporting the coronavirus figures. However, on Saturday the website was back online, but omitted the crucial data of how many people were infected or killed because of the virus. Lawmakers and health experts had attacked the government’s decision to withhold comprehensive statistics as the situation continued to worsen.

On Monday, Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes in a ruling said that the government must return to the old format. The judge asked the country’s health ministry to “fully re-establish the publication of Covid-19 data in the interests of public health”, BBC reported.

On Tuesday, Brazil’s health ministry restored the data and said the toll had risen by 1,272, taking the total number of people killed by Covid-19 to 38,406. Brazil, one of the worst-hit countries, has the third-highest toll in the world, after the United States and Britain. The total number of infections reached 7,39,503, the health ministry said on Tuesday.

The country has a population of 212 million, and the government has been accused of trying to withhold the extent of the outbreak. Last month, the Brazil president referred to the coronavirus as a “little flu”, asking governors to lift lockdown restrictions that had severely impacted the country’s economy, Reuters reported.

WHO lacks transparency

Meanwhile, the Brazilian government criticised the World Health Organization and accused the agency of lacking transparency.

Bolsonaro’s comments were backed by Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo on Tuesday.

“The WHO lacks independence, transparency and coherence,” Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo said on Tuesday. “The foreign ministry is following its role with great concern. We need to look into it. Is it a matter of political influence, is it a matter of non-state actors influencing the WHO?”

On Friday, President Bolsonaro had threatened to quit the World Health Organization over “ideological bias”. This came after United States President Donald Trump on May 29 said his country would terminate its relationship with the WHO. Trump has long been accusing the world health agency of helping the Chinese government cover up the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.

WHO Health Emergencies Programme Executive Director Michael Ryan on Monday had said that Brazil’s data had been “extremely detailed” till now, and the world body hoped that communication would continue to be “consistent and transparent”.

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