Article Brazil: Ministry of Health Ends Public Health Emergency

On April 22, 2022, Brazil’s Ministry of Health enacted Administrative Act No. 913 (Portaria GM/MS No. 913, de 22 de Abril de 2022), which declares the end of the Public Health Emergency of National Importance (Emergência em Saúde Pública de Importância Nacional, ESPIN) instituted to combat COVID-19 infections in the country.

Accordingly, the act revokes the directive that had declared the ESPIN —
Administrative Act No. 188 of February 3, 2020 (Portaria GM/MS No. 188, de 3 de Fevereiro de 2020) and had established the Public Health Emergency Operations Center (Centro de Operações de Emergências em Saúde Pública) as the national management mechanism responsible for planning, organizing, and coordinating emergency measures and disseminating information to the population.

In addition, the act tasks the Ministry of Health with guiding the states, Federal District, and municipalities in maintaining the National Contingency Plan for Human Infection by the Novel Coronavirus (Plano de Contingência Nacional para Infecção Humana pelo novo Coronavírus) through “constant technical assessment of the possible risks to Brazilian public health and the necessary actions to confront them.”

Administrative Act No. 913 enters into force 30 days after its promulgation.

On April 18, 2022, the minister of health, Marcelo Queiroga, announced during a press conference that the expressive drop in cases and deaths, the broad vaccination coverage of the population, and the ability the Unified Health System (Sistema Unico de Saúde) to respond to cases of COVID-19 justified ending the ESPIN.

A news report on another press conference held on the same day that the act was signed noted that the end of the ESPIN also affects state- and municipality-defined restrictions and preventive measures, such as the mandatory use of masks. During that press conference, Queiroga mentioned that the councils of state and municipal health secretaries had questioned ending the emergency and had requested that the period for adapting to the changes be extended from 30 days to 90 days. In response, Queiroga was quoted as saying that he did not believe that the adaptation was going to be especially difficult and, as an example, mentioned that the governors of the Federal District and of Rio de Janeiro had already started revoking the emergency measures.

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