Brazil mulls extending emergency aid amid pandemic

Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said that the government was considering extending an emergency economic aid program to the nation’s poorest citizens amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brazil will face another “one or two more months of economic difficulties” as a result of the impact caused by the pandemic, Xinhua news agency quoted Guedes as saying on Wednesday.

“We will examine, together with the Congress, the reformulation of emergency aid along with the creation of the ‘Renta Brasil’ program,” the Minister said.

According to the government, more than 65 million people have so far received the emergency government aid.

In April, it had approved an initiative to offer monthly financial aid amounting to 600 reals ($113) to low-income informal workers and single mothers for a period of three months.

The government extended the program for another two months on July 1, and because of its positive impact, it was now considering continuing it until the end of the year, but lowering the amount disbursed.

Brazil currently accounts for world’s second highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths.

As of Thursday, the country reported a total of 2,859,073 cases and 97,256 deaths.

Corona-sceptic President Jair Bolsonaro, who was diagnosed with the COVID-19 last month and has recovered since, had previously compared COVID-19 to a “little flu” and complained about lockdown measures and their effect on the country’s economy.

His wife, First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro and the country’s Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Marcos Pontes have also tested positive for the virus.

Two of the President’s close aides are also now quarantined at home after testing positive — Citizenship Minister Onyx Lorenzoni and Education Minister Milton Ribeiro.

Two other ministers, Bento Albuquerque, who is in charge of mines and energy, and Augusto Heleno, who heads the institutional security cabinet, tested positive in March, but quickly recovered.