Brazil will expand its use of chloroquine for treating the coronavirus this week, according to President Jair Bolsonaro, after the country posted a record high daily death toll of 1,179 on Tuesday.
Bolsonaro said interim health minister Eduardo Pazuello would issue new guidelines on Wednesday expanding the recommended use of the anti-malarial drug to treat the coronavirus.
Health Minister Nelson Teich quit on Friday under pressure to sign the guidelines, making him the second trained doctor to leave the post in a month. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned health professionals last month that chloroquine should not be used to treat COVID-19 outside of hospital or research settings, due to sometimes fatal side effects.
Brazil overtook Britain on Monday to become the country with the third-highest number of confirmed infections, behind Russia and the United States. Brazil’s confirmed cases also jumped by a record 17,408 on Tuesday, for a total of 271,628 people who have tested positive for the virus.
The highest daily death toll before Tuesday was 881 deaths, on May 12. The pandemic has killed at least 17,971 people in Brazil, according to the Health Ministry.
Bolsonaro has been widely criticized for his handling of the outbreak, which has included opposition to restrictions on movement he sees as too damaging to the economy.
In an interview posted to the website Blog do Magno, Bolsonaro said Pazuello, an active duty army general who had been Teich’s deputy, would sign the new chloroquine guidelines and keep the top job for now. Bolsonaro added that his mother is 93 years old, and he keeps a box of chloroquine on hand should she need it.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who announced on Monday he was taking chloroquine preventively, told reporters on Tuesday he is considering imposing a ban on travel from Brazil.
“I don’t want people coming over here and infecting our people. I don’t want people over there sick either,” said Trump. “We’re helping Brazil with ventilators … Brazil is having some trouble, no question about it.”