Numbers of the week: Sep. 19, 2020

This is Brazil by the Numbers, a weekly digest of the most interesting figures tucked inside the latest news about Brazil. A selection of numbers that help explain what is going on in Brazil. This week: A new, reduced coronavirus emergency salary. Brazil back on the Hunger Map. Coronavirus infections in the Supreme Court? The pandemic’s impact on organ transplant numbers. The return of Copa Libertadores. And coronavirus trends in Brazil.

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BRL 300 emergency salary 

The coronavirus emergency salary has been halved to BRL 300 (USD 56), [restricted]as the government was unable to cope with the origina BRL 50-billion monthly price tag. As we explained in our September 17 Daily Briefing, the cuts will instantly reduce the purchasing power of Brazil’s poorest populations by 44 percent. According to recent estimates, the aid program has accounted for 97 percent of the income for the country’s poorest 10 percent.

10.2 million food-insecure Brazilians

New data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics shows that, in 2018, 4.6 percent of households face severe food insecurity. Economists say this number has probably increased during the pandemic. Moreover, access to food products has been reduced due to recent price hikes. Back in February, BRL 100 could buy 35 kilos of rice; now, it is only enough for 26 kilos.

-6.5-percent projection

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) improved their estimate for the Brazilian GDP in 2020, reducing the expected drop to 6.5 percent in its latest projections from a predicted 7.4-percent plunge in economic activity. The organization sees the local economy bouncing back in 2021, but, if confirmed, the 3.6-percent growth estimate is not enough to offset the long term impacts of Covid-19. The organization sees the local economy bouncing back in 2021, but, if confirmed, the 3.6-percent growth estimate is not enough to offset the long term impacts of Covid-19. 

5 high-profile officials catch the coronavirus

At least five high-profile officials tested positive for the coronavirus after attending Supreme Court Chief Justice Luiz Fux’s inauguration ceremony. That raised questions about whether all sanitary protocols were respected during the event. 

Alongside the chief justice himself, House Speaker Rodrigo Maia, and two Supreme Court Justices were infected and the president of Brazil’s Superior Labor Court, Maria Cristina Peduzzi, caught the virus. The court issued a statement saying that “all safety measures were strictly followed during the ceremony.” Meanwhile, multiple justices leaked a story to the press that Mr. Maia held a dinner party with several authorities — suggesting that the spread happened during Mr. Maia’s event rather than at the Supreme Court building.

Organ transplants down 61 percent in Brazil

During the pandemic, transplant procedures were down 61 percent compared to 2019, while the deaths of patients registered in transplant waiting-lines skyrocketed 44.5 percent, according to the Brazilian Transplant Association (ABTO). The organization says that transplants have been compromised by a lack of donors.

5-0 pounding

Copa Libertadores — South America’s answer to the UEFA Champions League — is back after a six-month hiatus, despite the fact that the region’s countries are struggling to tame the coronavirus spread. Many teams have voiced concerns about traveling to areas where infection curves are up, as the tournament’s “mobile bubbles” seem very porous. The first batch of games included a shocking 5-0 thrashing of reigning champions Flamengo at the hands of Ecuador’s Independiente Del Valle. For the Rio de Janeiro-based team, there is only one attenuating factor for the embarrassing loss: the game was played at Quito’s 2,850-meter altitude.

15,000-plus fires

Until September 17, over 15,000 fires had been recorded in the Pantanal wetland region, a 210-percent increase from 2019 — and the highest ever recorded. The situation is so bad that the federal government has declared a state of emergency in the state of Mato Grosso. On Friday, a plane carrying President Jair Bolsonaro aborted its landing when approaching the Center-Western state, as fire smoke impaired visibility. Days before, Mr. Bolsonaro “congratulated” his administration’s environmental efforts.

34-percent growth in new daily coronavirus deaths

Brazil has confirmed 4.4 million coronavirus cases (the third-highest tally in the world) and 135,000 deaths (only behind the U.S.). States’ 7-day rolling average for new daily deaths went down in most states — but Pará, in the North, was a notable exception. It had a 34-percent growth in average daily deaths between September 1 and 18 — more than anywhere else. On the flip side, Brazil’s northernmost state Roraima dropped by almost 66 percent.


By Lucas Berti

Lucas Berti covers international affairs — specialized in Latin American politics and markets. He has been published by Opera Mundi, Revista VIP, and The Intercept Brasil, among others.