Sao Paulo extends stay-at-home, ignoring Bolsonaro

Sao Paulo (AFP) –


The governor of Sao Paulo, the Brazilian state at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in Latin America, said Friday he was extending stay-at-home measures until May 31, ignoring opposition from far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

"I'd like to be giving you different news," Governor Joao Doria told a press conference.

"But we are in the worst moment of this pandemic. The only ones who cannot see it are blinded by hate or personal ambition."

Doria has repeatedly clashed with Bolsonaro over how to handle the pandemic.

The president wants Brazilians to get back to work. He argues that business closures are unnecessarily damaging the economy, which is on track to shrink by 5.3 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Doria, a member of center-right party PSDB, has refused to be pressured, saying reopening too soon would cause a public health catastrophe.

Brazil has registered more than 135,000 cases of the new coronavirus, with 9,146 deaths so far -- by far the highest figures in Latin America.

Experts say under-testing means the real figures are likely much higher.

Sao Paulo, whose population of 45.9 million people makes it about the same size as Spain, has registered nearly 40,000 of those cases, and 3,206 deaths.

The state is Brazil's top industrial hub. It closed schools and non-essential businesses on March 24.