from Barbara P in Florianópolis, Brazil: mixed messages from government

13 April: Brazil has now 22,720 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 1,270 registered deaths. To put these figures in perspective, it is useful to know that the population of Brazil is just over 210 million people. While no-one can deny the slow increase in the number of infections and deaths due to COVID-19, the country is still far from experiencing the disaster situations in Europe.  

Yet an article was published in the Guardian today entitled ‘Bolsonaro dragging Brazil towards coronavirus calamity, experts fear’. As explained in the article, Brazil may experience a devastating public health crisis similar to those that have hit Italy and New York if Bolsonaro continues to undermine social distancing measures.

At the same time, nearly all 27 governors of Brazil’s states have shown more awareness than their president by calling on the population to stay at home and respect social distancing. Yet more and more people in the big cities like Rio and São Paulo find it difficult to respect these rules, especially given the importance of physical contact in Brazilian way of life. Brazilians are also said to be increasingly confused by mixed messages from government, Bolsonaro ‘s defiance of distancing being highly criticized by his health minister. At the very least, there is a lot of confusion here. 

The best news of the day was that my aunt Sonia came back home after spending two weeks at the hospital. She is still very weak and cannot speak on the phone so I didn’t get to have a direct contact with her, but ooh – what a massive relief and what a joy to imagine her at home!

from Brenda in Hove, UK: Wills and Powers of Attorney in the time of Covid-19

April 10. It is not a simple matter to draw up a will and get it signed when ‘social distancing’ requires not being within two metres of anybody. We got through the first hurdle and met with a lawyer via Skype and he sent the documentation. Thankfully, the postal system is still working – because our printer is not.

The wills have to be witnessed by people who are prepared to attest to the fact that not only  is it you who is actually signing but that you are in sound mind while doing so. We thought this might put a bit of a strain on neighbours who have only recently met us. How would they know? The word “eccentric” at the very least must have crossed their minds in the last few months.

We have a friend who lives nearby and has already recovered from Covid. Perfect. She could hire herself out! We met in the park which we overlook and which has a few convenient tables. I brought surgical gloves and we all brought our own black pens. This is not a matter for amateurs. What followed was like a synchronised dance. James and I moved in to sign the wills (one page each, mind; bare minimum and simple as could be) – and moved back. Our friends each moved in to sign – and moved back. James and I moved in to sign the PDAs and moved back – and they each moved in to sign – and moved back. We did draw some curious glances from passers-by and I was more than ready to deal with anyone who might emerge from the police car cruising around.

Done and dusted! We can rest easy. Just have to pay nearly £1000 for the pleasure.