Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro once again defied his own government's recommendations on social distancing to mingle with supporters on the street, as COVID-19 deaths and cases continue to soar in the country.

During an excursion on Saturday to Cristalina, 150 km from Brasilia, Bolsonaro departed from the official program to visit several shops, shake hands with supporters and pose for photos - all in contravention of the recommendations of the Health Ministry, reports Efe news.

Minimizing threat consistently

Jair Bolsonaro
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Facebook/Jair Bolsonaro

The President, who has consistently minimized the threat of COVID-19 and railed at Brazil's state governors for imposing restrictions to halt contagion, justified striding into crowds by insisting that it is his duty "to be with the people". Bolsonaro has taken lately to blaming the governors and mayors for the rising death toll while rejecting any responsibility on his part.

Death toll increases

Earlier this week, responding to a question about the COVID-19 fatalities, the President said: "And so? I lament it, but what do you want me to do?"

The COVID-19 death toll in Brazil increased by 421 to 6,750, the Health Ministry said on Saturday. With additional 4,970 cases confirmed over the last 24 hours, the overall number of infections in the country stood at 96,599.