Brazil's right wing president Jair Bolsonaro is accusing the media of stoking hysteria over the coronavirus, repeating his view that concerns about the virus are overblown.
He urged people of Brazil to get back to work. In his address to the nation, Bolsonaro urged mayors and state governors to roll back lockdown measures that have brought Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo to near standstills.
Bolsonaro has faced increasing criticism for his cavalier attitude toward the virus, which he has dismissed as a "fantasy" and a "small flu" despite its infecting over 4,22,000 people worldwide and killing 18,000.
"The virus arrived, we are confronting it, and it will pass shortly," he said in a televised address. "Our lives have to continue. Jobs should be maintained."
During his address Tuesday night, people banged pots and pans in a traditional form of protest in Sao Paulo and Brasilia. Opinion polls have shown Bolsonaro's popularity slipping.
He said the terrible situation in Italy would not be repeated in Brazil because of the Latin American country's younger population and warmer climate.
Coronavirus deaths in Brazil on Tuesday rose to 46 from 34, and the number of cases rose to 2,201 from 1,891, according to government figures. Wanderson de Oliveira, a Health Ministry official, told reporters Brazil would vastly expand testing in the coming days.