While Jair Bolsonaro sabotaged quarantine efforts in Brazil, Jacinda Ardern was quietly impressive in New Zealand. Observer writers assess premiers reactions to the pandemic
Jair Bolsonaro Brazil
Brazils president, Jair Bolsonaro, is one of only a handful of world leaders who have played down Covid-19s threat, for instance by sabotaging quarantine measures imposed by nearly all of the countrys state governors.
Its raining. Were going to get wet. And some are going to drown in the rain, the far-right populist shrugged last week, after dismissing the pandemic as a fantasy. That cavalier attitude has sparked nightly pot-banging protests and daily media condemnations. They accuse Bolsonaro who apparently thinks shutting down the economy will wreck his chances of re-election of putting his own political future before Brazilian lives.
Bolsonaros reckless behaviour has earned him a position never previously enjoyed by a Brazilian president that of international villain, one conservative broadsheet recently declared. Another paper, the Folha de So Paulo, said Brazil needed a Winston Churchill-like statesman to offer blood, toil, tears and sweat. Unfortunately, the newspaper lamented, it had nothing of the sort.
Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro