The Brazilian government has launched a new portal powered by real-time data analytics to report the evolving picture on the Covid-19 outbreak, following controversy over moves to suppress the release of such information in what is the current global epicenter of the pandemic.
Earlier this week, data relating to the pandemic had, without warning, been removed from the health ministry website and the government announced it would stop releasing historical numbers on cumulative deaths and the number of infections. The decision sparked outrage as it was seen as an attempt to cover up the worsening health crisis in the country.
The Brazilian Supreme Court then ordered the federal administration to resume publishing complete statistics on the pandemic on Tuesday. However, the government's earlier decision to stop publishing key information on the outbreak prompted media organizations and universities to find alternative ways to collect data from the public health authorities in order to present the statistics to the public, a move that was welcomed by the World Health Organization.
There are currently two official websites where nationwide numbers on Covid-19 can be found, one of which has been launched yesterday (12). The new platform highlights the number of patients that have recovered and the cases being monitored. Below, it lists information on the overall number of infections and deaths.
Based on data analytics tool Qlik Sense, the new website offers a few filters, such as deaths in relation to the number of inhabitants. Greater emphasis is given to cases by municipality rather than the nationwide picture, with graphs based on daily notifications.
Brazil's interim health minister, Eduardo Pazuello, said earlier in the week that the new platform increases transparency and provides better support to decision making by local health authorities. This is because the new platform, Pazuello said, is updated in real-time as data on cases and deaths becomes available to managers in the public healthcare network, rather than the previous set up which relies on daily reports provided by local health authorities at a specific time.
However, the new platform does not have the option to download tables with the statistics, as was the case on the website that was already available. It is unclear whether the government has the intention of only keeping the new website and if the option to download data will be introduced.
Questioned by ZDNet as to whether the intention is to concentrate the information on the Covid-19 outbreak in a single website with the option for users to download data, the health ministry had not responded to requests for comment at the time of writing.