Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro gestures during a ceremony at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil February 24, 2021…
FILE - Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro gestures at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, Feb. 24, 2021.

With new cases and COVID-19-related deaths surging and hospitals reaching capacity in Brazil, the country's president, Jair Bolsonaro, told Brazilians on Thursday to "stop whining" about the pandemic.

Speaking at an event for the opening of a new rail line in Sao Simao in south-central Goias state, the far-right leader and COVID-19 skeptic lashed out at lockdown measures, saying deaths are regrettable, but questioned how long people will be "staying home and closing everything," saying no one can stand it anymore.

Brazil's Sao Paulo state Governor, Joao Doria, holds a box of China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine at Sao Paulo International Airport in Guarulhos, near Sao Paulo, Brazil, March 4, 2021.

João Doria, the governor of Brazil's largest state, Sao Paulo, responded angrily to the comments, telling the British Broadcasting Company that Bolsonaro is "a crazy guy" who, he said, attacked the nation's "governors and mayors who want to buy vaccines and help the country to end this pandemic."

More than 260,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Brazil, second only to the United States.

Bolsonaro has consistently opposed quarantine measures introduced by governors, arguing the collateral damage to the economy will be worse than the effects of the virus itself.

But Brazil's health officials say the nation is facing its worst phase of the epidemic yet, pushing its hospital system to the brink of collapse.

Despite the president's comments, new restrictions have been implemented in the nation's capital, Brasilia, and its largest city, Sao Paulo. Tourist mecca Rio de Janeiro on Thursday announced a citywide curfew and early closing times for restaurants. 
 

Special Section