SAO PAULO — Brazil’s governors are defying President Jair Bolsonaro over his call to reopen schools and businesses, dismissing his argument — borrowed from President Trump — that the cure of widespread shutdowns to contain the spread of the new coronavirus is worse than the disease.
Bolsonaro contends that the clampdown already ordered by many governors will deeply wound the already beleaguered economy and spark social unrest. In a nationally televised address Tuesday night, he urged governors to limit isolation only to high-risk people and lift the strict antivirus measures they have imposed in their regions.
“What needs to be done? Put the people to work. Preserve the elderly, preserve those who have health problems. But nothing more than that,” said Bolsonaro, who in the past has sparked anger by calling the virus a “little flu.”
The country’s governors protested on Wednesday that his instructions run counter to health experts’ recommendations and endanger Latin America’s largest population. They said they would continue with their strict measures and, in a joint letter, nearly all of them begged that the federal government join forces with states. The rebellion even included traditional allies of Brazil’s president.
Governor Carlos Moisés of Santa Catarina state, which gave almost 80 percent of its votes to Bolsonaro in the 2018 presidential runoff, complained he was “blown away” by the president’s instructions. Moisés said he would insist that all residents stay home during the pandemic, despite the president’s stand.
In a videoconference Wednesday between Bolsonaro and governors from Brazil’s southeast region, Sao Paulo Governor João Doria threatened to sue the federal government if it tried to interfere with his efforts to combat the virus, according to video of their private meeting reviewed by The Associated Press.
Spanish doctor says older patients missing out on care
MADRID — In the emergency room at one of Madrid’s biggest hospitals, Daniel Bernabeu signed the death certificate for one patient and immediately turned to help another who was choking.
People are dying in waiting rooms before they can even be admitted as the coronavirus pandemic overpowers medical staff. With some funeral services halted in the Spanish capital and no space left in the morgues, corpses are being stored at the main ice rink.
Overflowing intensive care wards and new rules dictate that older patients miss out to younger people with a better shot at surviving, Bernabeu said by telephone. ‘‘That grandpa, in any other situation, would have had a chance,’’ he said. ‘‘But there’s so many of them, all dying at the same time.’’
The number of fatalities in the country of 47 million people is now rising faster than it did in China, where the virus first emerged, and faster than in Italy, where the disease took hold this month.
Spanish authorities reported another 738 people had lost their lives, making it the deadliest hot spot on Wednesday while elsewhere countries unveiled more measures to deal with the economic carnage. The daily count of fatalities dropped to 655 on Thursday. Spain’s total death toll, now at 4,089, already overtook China’s this week.
Some residents of India receiving rations, cash
NEW DELHI — Some of India’s legions of poor and others suddenly thrown out of work by a nationwide stay-at-home order began receiving aid on Thursday, as both public and private groups worked to blunt the impact of efforts to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
India’s finance ministry announced a $22 billion economic stimulus package that will include delivering grains and lentil rations for three months to 800 million people, some 60 percent of the world’s second-most populous country.
In the meantime, police in one state were giving rations of rice to shanty dwellers, while another state’s government deposited cash into the bank accounts of newly unemployed workers. Aid groups worked to greatly expand the number of meals they could hand out.
The unprecedented order keeping India’s 1.3 billion people at home for all but essential trips to places such as markets or pharmacies is meant to keep the virus from surging above the 593 active cases and 13 deaths currently recorded and overwhelming an already strained health care system.
France evacuating infected citizens from hot spot Alsace
France began evacuating infected citizens from the northeastern hotspot of Alsace using a special high-speed train.
Meanwhile, Britain ordered 10,000 ventilators, working with engineers from Dyson. The government wants to increase its supply of the breathing machines from 8,000 to 30,000.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
So far, more than 115,000 people have recovered from the virus, according to a running count kept by Johns Hopkins University.
China’s cases have slowed, with only 67 new cases reported, all recent arrivals.
Kosovo lawmakers vote to remove the prime minister
Kosovo lawmakers voted to remove Prime Minister Albin Kurti, becoming the first nation in Europe to vote out a government over the way it is handling the coronavirus outbreak.
The government collapsed late on Wednesday, just months after it took office. The vote was called by a junior coalition partner who criticized the steps that were taken to curb the contagion.
Kurti ordered a curfew and banned public gatherings on Monday to stem the spread, defying President Hashim Thaci who wanted to declare a national emergency.