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Social media removes videos of Jair Bolsonaro visiting a busy market during coronavirus pandemic

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Brazil's Bolsonaro
Brazil's Bolsonaro   -   Copyright  Andre Borges/AP
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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has publicly defied his country's measures of social distancing to combat the spread of coronavirus.

Bolsonaro posted a number of videos on social media, in which he walked around busy markets near the capital Brasilia, greeting salesmen and citizens.

In one video, the President can be heard telling a street vendor that "what I have been hearing from people is that they want to work".

"We just can't stand still, there is fear because if you don't die of the disease, you starve," the vendor is seen telling Bolsonaro, who responds: "You're not going to die".

In another video, the president calls for a "return to normality" and questions the quarantine measures that have been imposed by several governors and mayors in Brazil.

"If it continues like this, with the amount of unemployment what we will have later is a very serious problem that will take years to be resolved," said Bolsonaro.

In a third video in Ceilândia, the President can be seen smiling and taking photos with citizens.

But on Sunday, Twitter removed two of Bolsonaro's videos for violating the platform's regulations.

In a statement to Euronews, Twitter said that they had expanded their rules and would be taking action against content which went against public health information provided by official sources and could put people at greater risk of transmitting COVID-19.

Twitter say they will remove tweets that "actively encourage people to not socially distance" in regions that are affected by COVID-19.

Screenshot - Twitter

The content has also since been removed from the Brazilian president's official Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages.

Speaking to Euronews, a YouTube spokesperson said the company has "clear policies that prohibit videos promoting medically unsubstantiated methods to prevent the coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment".

"We quickly remove videos violating these policies when flagged to us".

YouTube say they are "committed to providing timely and helpful information at this critical time, including raising authoritative content, reducing the spread of harmful misinformation and showing information panels, using WHO data, to help combat misinformation".

Jair Bolsonaro has campaigned on social media under the slogan "Brazil can't stop", suggesting that there is no need for the country to impose self-isolation rules.

The campaign was banned by judges in Rio de Janeiro, following a request from federal prosecutors, arguing that there was no national plan in place to fight the pandemic.

Bolsonaro has previously described the coronavirus as "a little flu" and advocated the reopening of schools and shops, saying that only those people aged over 60 should self isolate.

He has also stated that strong measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 are unnecessary.

A recent poll from Datafolha found that 73% of people in Brazil supported total isolation, and around 54% approved of local governors’ management of the crisis.

On Saturday, the country's Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta also highlighted the importance of containment as a means of fighting the coronavirus, which has inflected at least 4,256 people, and killed at least 136 people, according to the latest official figures.