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Brazil's health minister resigns after one month, Germany drops quarantine for travellers

Last Updated May 15, 2020 at 11:50 am PST

Brazil's new Health Minister Nelson Teich listens to a question during his first press conference amid the new coronavirus pandemic, at the Planalto Presidential Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, April 22, 2020. Teich, an oncologist, was sworn in as health minister last week after his predecessor was fired by President Jair Bolsonaro, who has downplayed the threat of COVID-19. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Nelson Teich's resignation was confirmed by the Health Ministry

Resignation a sign of continuing upheaval in the nation's battle with the COVID-19 pandemic

Teich took the job on April 17 under pressure to align the ministry’s actions with the president’s view

SAO PAULO — Brazil’s health minister, who took office less than a month ago, resigned on Friday in a sign of continuing upheaval in the nation’s battle with the COVID-19 pandemic and President Jair Bolsonaro’s pressure for the nation to prioritize the economy over health-driven lockdowns.

Nelson Teich’s resignation was confirmed by the Health Ministry. The oncologist, a former health care consultant, took the job on April 17 under pressure to align the ministry’s actions with the president’s view that the economy must not be destroyed by restrictions to control spread of the virus.

Bolsonaro fired Teich’s predecessor, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, after disagreements over efforts to contain the new coronavirus. Mandetta was one of Brazil’s most popular ministers.

Officials say that more than 13,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil, though some experts say the figure is significantly higher due to insufficient testing, and analysts say the peak of the crisis has yet to hit Latin America’s largest nation.

Brazil had close to 14,000 new cases on Friday, bringing the recorded total there to around 203,000.

Meanwhile, Russia has reported another 10,000 cases, bringing the country’s total to close to 263,000 — the second-highest amount in the world.

In Wuhan, 11 new asymptomatic cases were recorded, prompting health officials to ask for city-wide testing of all 11-million residents to identify the scope of local outbreak so work, school, and business can resume.

In Germany, states agreed to drop a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travellers entering from the EU and several other European countries, including Britain, said Armin Laschet, the governor of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Germany has seen more than 170,000 COVID-19 infections and nearly 8,000 deaths, but more than 150,000 people have recovered, and the country has been seeing fewer than 1,000 new cases per day.

In Australia, many Sydney cafes and restaurants opened again as New South Wales, the country’s most populous state, granted permission for them, as well as places of worship, to reopen with up to 10 people so long as distancing rules are in place.

In Japan, some schools, restaurants and other businesses started to reopen after the country lifted its national coronavirus emergency, while keeping in place restrictions in limited urban areas like Tokyo where risks remain.

The head of the World Health Organization’s Europe office, Dr. Hans Kluge, warned that distancing guidance and other protective measures were more important than ever.