Police remove sunbathers from Copacabana as Brazil's coronavirus death toll tops 72,000

Victoria Bell
·3-min read
Municipal guards stop a jogger to tell him to wear a mask at Copacabana beach amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Municipal guards stop a jogger on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to tell him to wear a mask. (AP)

Police officers are removing sunbathers from Rio De Janeiro's iconic Copacabana Beach as Brazil's coronavirus death toll rises to 72,000.

Municipal police officers were pictured removing sunbathers who flout the rules and stopping people who weren’t wearing masks.

Police urged tourists and locals to go home as they patrolled the nearly vacant expanse of beach, which is only available to people using it for individual exercise.

The city's mayor Marcello Crivella announced on Thursday that Rio de Janeiro beaches will remain closed until there is a COVID-19 vaccine available.

“Where you can’t use masks, the inclination is to only return when there is a vaccine, which is being tested, or when contamination is close to zero,” Crivella told reporters on Thursday.

A man runs with his dog on the Copacabana beach during the new coronavirus pandemic in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, July 2, 2020. Rio de Janeiro authorities have begun to ease the city's lockdown amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
A man runs with his dog on Copacabana Beach. (AP)
Municipal guards stop a man on a bike to tell him to wear a mask at Copacabana beach amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Municipal guards stop a man on a bike to tell him to wear a mask at Copacabana Beach. (AP)

It comes after Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for coronavirus – after having previously being criticised for calling the virus a "little flu".

Bolsonaro, 65, contracted COVID-19 after months flouting social distancing recommendations and refusing to wear a mask.

The Brazilian government has been criticised for downplaying the gravity of the pandemic and questioning the validity of reported case numbers, suggesting they were being inflated to damage its reputation.

Brazil has become a major epicentre of COVID-19, with nearly 2 million confirmed cases – the second highest in the world after the US.

A Brazilian flag hangs on a cross marking a symbolic grave dug by activists from the NGO Rio de Paz to protest the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, June 11, 2020. A Brazilian Supreme Court justice ordered the government of President Jair Bolsonaro to resume publication of full COVID-19 data, including the cumulative death toll, following allegations the government was trying to hide the severity of the pandemic in Latin America’s biggest country. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
An organisation critical of Brazil's response to the pandemic dug 100 graves with black crosses on Copacabana Beach as a reminder of the 40,000 people who have died of the virus in the country. (AP)
Activists dig symbolic graves on Copacabana beach as a protest, organized by the NGO Rio de Paz, against the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, June 11, 2020. A Brazilian Supreme Court justice ordered the government of President Jair Bolsonaro to resume publication of full COVID-19 data, including the cumulative death toll, following allegations the government was trying to hide the severity of the pandemic in Latin America’s biggest country. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
Activists dig the symbolic graves on Copacabana Beach. (AP)

On Monday, an organisation critical of Brazil's response to the pandemic dug 100 graves with black crosses on Copacabana Beach as a reminder of the people who have died from the virus in the country so far.

In June the government stopped publishing a running total of coronavirus deaths and infections, instead only reporting cases and deaths in the previous 24 hours, prompting outrage from people accusing it of hiding the true extent of the outbreak in the country.

Read more: Record number of global coronavirus cases for second time in 3 days

The health ministry came under fire for taking down a website that had shown daily, weekly and monthly figures on infections and deaths in each of the country's states.

Shortly after announcing he had COVID-19, Bolsonaro posted a video to his Facebook page showing him taking the drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for his illness.

The video, which has clocked up over 6 million views, appears to show him taking a dose of the anti-malaria drug, which received global attention when US president Donald Trump endorsed it both as a preventative measure and as a treatment for the disease.

However, there is no evidence for its effectiveness in the treatment of patients with COVID-19.

While admitting the drug had not been scientifically proven, Bolsonaro said "with all certainty" that it was working for him, and that he was feeling better.

“Today I’m a lot better, so certainly it’s working,” Bolsonaro said, according to an AP translation of the video.

Studies have found evidence of hydroxychloroquine being both ineffective in treating the virus and having dangerous side effects.

The World Health Organization announced on Saturday it would end a trial for hydroxychloroquine after researchers saw “little or no reduction” of hospitalised COVID-19 patients’ mortality rates.

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