PRESIDENT Jair Bolsonaro has told Brazilians to "stop whining" about Covid-19, as he takes aim at lockdown measures despite a swell in cases and deaths.
His comments came a day after Brazil saw its most significant surge in deaths over a 24-hour period to date.
The sprawling South American nation is facing its worst phase of the pandemic yet, leaving its health system at the brink of disaster.
In response to the president’s lacklustre response to the crisis, some cities and states have imposed their own restrictions.
More than 260,000 people have died with Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic according to Brazil's health ministry, making it the second-highest pandemic death toll in the world after the US.
From Thursday, a further 1,699 deaths were added to that tally, which is a slight decrease on Wednesday's record 1,910. Meanwhile, 75,102 cases of coronavirus were reported – the second-highest daily jump yet.
The dramatic surge in cases has been attributed to the spread of a highly contagious variant of the virus thought to have originated in the Amazon city of Manaus.
Despite these worrying developments, on Thursday Mr Bolsonaro continued to downplay the threat posed by the virus.
"Stop whining. How long are you going to keep crying about it?" Mr Bolsonaro said at an event. "How much longer will you stay at home and close everything? No one can stand it anymore. We regret the deaths, again, but we need a solution."
The comments sparked a furious response from some Brazillian officials, including São Paulo's governor, João Doria, who, speaking to the BBC, called the outspoken president "a crazy guy" for attacking "governors and mayors who want to buy vaccines and help the country to end this pandemic".
"How can we face the problem, seeing people die every day? The health system in Brazil is on the verge of collapse," Mr Doria said.
Taking a stance that mirrors his former American counterpart, President Donald Trump, President Bolsonaro has consistently opposed lockdown measures introduced by governors, arguing that the economic fallout will be worse than the effects of the virus itself.
"Unfortunately, Brazil has to fight, at this moment, two viruses: the coronavirus and Bolsonaro virus. This is a sadness for the Brazilians," Mr Doria told the BBC.