Bolsonaro hails supporters as crises grow

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has met demonstators in Brasilia.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has met demonstators in Brasilia.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has hailed supporters rallying in the country's capital to back his administration as an unfolding political scandal adds to the public health crisis driven by the coronavirus outbreak.

Surrounded by security guards wearing masks, but not wearing one himself, Bolsonaro was shown in a live streaming video on his Facebook page greeting protesters waving Brazilian flags and calling him a "legend", days after Brazil topped Russia to become the world's No.2 virus hotspot after the United States.

The Brasilia rally, one of several demonstrations Bolsonaro has encouraged in recent weeks, came as the administration of US President Donald Trump, a close ally of the far-right Bolsonaro, announced it was prohibiting foreigners from travelling to the United States if they had been in Brazil in the past two weeks.

Health ministry figures released on Saturday evening showed 16,508 new cases were recorded in the past 24 hours, bringing the total above 347,000, while the death toll increased by 965 to 22,013.

More pro-Bolsonaro rallies are expected to take place in Sao Paulo, Brazil's most populous city and the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The demonstrations follow a decision by Brazil's Federal Supreme Court last week to release a video recording of an April 22 ministerial meeting, in which Bolsonaro said he wanted to change security officials, their bosses or even ministers to stop his family and friends getting "screwed".

The political scandal revolves around an accusation by former justice minister Sergio Moro, a popular anti-graft crusader, that Bolsonaro aimed to interfere in police investigations.

Australian Associated Press