Brazil has topped 20 million coronavirus cases as of Friday since the beginning of the health crisis but President Jair Bolsonaro has recently called for a study to end the use of face masks to battle the pandemic.

On Monday, the president said that he had commissioned a study from the country's health ministry to end the use of facial coverings in the region. He also said that he would meet with Health Minister Marcel Queiroga to announce a matter related to masks.

Brazil to Remove Face Masks?

As of Friday, officials from the South American country reported that they have recorded 20,528,099 confirmed cases of the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. The official death toll has since risen to 573,511. The numbers mark the third-worst outbreak in the world, following the United States and India, NBC News reported.

Bolsonaro has long fought against the use of face masks in Brazil, frequently refusing to wear one even when going out in public and despite a legal requirement to do so. The president defended his decision by saying that the majority of the country's residents were already vaccinated against coronavirus or have already contracted the infection.

However, epidemiologists argued that it is still too early to remove the use of face masks in the country, citing the recent spread of the Delta variant. Despite 60% of Brazilians have received their first vaccine dose, only 25% of the population have been fully vaccinated against the virus.

Read Also: US FDA Grants Full Approval to Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine, Recent Action Will Mandate Vaccination

Despite Bolsonaro's desire to remove the use of face masks in the country, states and municipalities are free to set their own COVID-19 restrictions. While Bolsonaro's far-right base would consider the passing of the guidelines a win, it would not mandate government agencies to remove the use of face masks in their regions, Reuters reported.

Many residents have blamed Bolsonaro for the deaths related to the coronavirus in the country. One resident, Cida de Moura, said her husband died before they could celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary this December. The woman said that the president could have helped everyone if he took the right measures against the health crisis.

Bolsonaro's Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Brazilian senate continues to investigate the pandemic in the country that continues to bury its dead in grief. In April, the hearings began and have been broadcasted live for residents to watch. There was evidence shown by a representative of Pfizer, which was particularly damning.

The representative said that while the pharmaceutical company repeatedly offered to sell vaccines to the Brazilian government last year, they were ignored. He said the issue continued for months and left more than 100 emails unanswered.

Another witness accused the Brazilian president of ignoring the irregularities and massive overcharging of vaccine purchases from India. However, Bolsonaro has denied all accusations and said he has not done anything wrong.

Omar Aziz, a Brazilian senator of the opposition party, leads the inquiry into Bolsonaro's response to the pandemic. He is a towering figure from the Amazonas and his brother, Walid, was one of the victims of the health crisis, BBC reported.

Related Article: New Zealand's COVID Outbreak Tops 100; What Comes Next?