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Most Brazilians want tougher lockdowns even as economic cost mounts - Metro US

Most Brazilians want tougher lockdowns even as economic cost mounts

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sao Paulo

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Most Brazilians support stricter social distancing measures to control the coronavirus, according to a poll published on Wednesday, even as the full economic toll began to emerge with data showing the loss of over a million jobs since the outbreak hit.

Brazil shed more than 860,000 jobs in April and over 240,000 in March, according to figures released by the Economy Ministry, the first official data to reveal the impact of the virus on the labor market.

The survey by pollster Datafolha showed 60% of Brazilians are in favor of shelter-in-place policies being made more restrictive, as the country wrestles with the world’s second-largest outbreak. As of Tuesday, Brazil had registered 24,512 deaths due to COVID-19.

The poll is in stark contrast to views held by President Jair Bolsonaro who has attacked lockdown measures as a “poison” that could kill more through unemployment and hunger than the virus itself.

Most cities and states in Brazil have implemented some form of physical distancing measures, closing nonessential businesses and urging people to stay home, but few have imposed obligatory policies enforced by police.

The poll also suggested the lighter lockdown measures currently in place were becoming less effective. Of those surveyed, 35% said they were leaving their homes, up from 27% when a previous poll was published on April 27. Some 13% said they remained in total isolation compared to 16% in the previous poll.

Datafolha conducted 2,069 interviews by phone on Monday and Tuesday. The poll’s margin of error is 2 percentage points.

(Reporting by Eduardo Simões and Jamie McGeever in Sao Paulo; Writing by Ana Mano and Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Matthew Lewis)

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