Nearly half of Brazilians say Bolsonaro not to blame for coronavirus death toll, poll says

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Almost half of Brazilians think President Jair Bolsonaro bears “no responsibility at all” for the country’s more than 100,000 dead from the coronavirus pandemic, the world’s second highest death toll, according to a new Datafolha poll.

The poll was published on Saturday in Brazil’s Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper and says 47% of Brazilians do not assign him any blame for the body count, whereas 11% do.

Brazil has the world’s worst outbreak outside of the United States and Bolsonaro’s response to the pandemic has been widely condemned by health experts. Right-wing Bolsonaro has pushed for the use of unproven anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to fight the disease, replaced health ministers who opposed his agenda, encouraged Brazilians to oppose lockdown measures and shown indifference to the rising death toll.

Bolsonaro himself and several members of his family have gotten coronavirus. His current wife, Michelle Bolsonaro, got the disease in late July and her grandmother died from the disease this week.

Bolsonaro’s fourth son, Jair Renan, who is 22, tested positive for coronavirus, his mother said on Instagram on Saturday.

“He is doing very well, taking hydroxychloroquine and will soon recover,” the president’s second wife said in the post, still signing her name as Cristina Bolsonaro.

Still, Bolsonaro is currently enjoying the highest popularity rating of his administration, according to the same Datafolha poll. Thirty-seven percent of Brazilians rated his term as great or good, compared with 32% in June.

The poll said that the spike in popularity can be explained by emergency payments the government has been making to low-income and informal workers set to expire in September. The government is currently considering whether to extend the payments.

As of Friday, Brazil had 106,523 deaths and 3,275,520 confirmed cases.

Datafolha interviewed 2,065 people Aug. 11-12, and the poll has a margin of error of two percentage points up or down.

Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun and Ricardo Brito; Editing by Marguerita Choy