By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA - Support for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has dropped as criticism grows of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a poll released on Tuesday, driving home his political isolation in the mounting public health crisis.

More than 11,000 Brazilians have died from COVID-19, the worst in emerging markets, as Bolsonaro has dismissed the respiratory disease as “a little flu” and attacked state governments’ isolation orders, which most people support.

The CNT/MDA survey found that 43.4% of those polled see the government as “bad” or “awful,” up from 31.0% in January. “Good” or “great” evaluations slipped to 32.0% from 34.5% in the previous poll. Bolsonaro’s personal approval rating fell to 39.2% from 47.8% in January, as disapproval rose to 55.4% from 47.0%.

Of those polled, 67.3% agree with the need for social distancing to contain the spread of coronavirus, which state governors and health experts have recommended, while Bolsonaro has sought to reopen businesses to support the economy.

Only 2.6% of Brazilians believe in no social distancing, the poll said, and 29.3% see it as only necessary for people with greater health risks.

Brazil’s state governors won more approval than Bolsonaro’s government in the fight against the pandemic, with 69.2% respondents supporting their governors’ actions and 26.8% disapproving. The federal government’s actions to fight the outbreak were approved by 51.7% and found lacking by 42.3%.

The MDA telephone survey, commissioned by the CNT transportation industry group, polled 2,002 people from May 7-10 and has a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.

MDA’s poll in January, before the first cases of coronavirus were registered in Brazil in late February, showed support for Bolsonaro’s government growing on an improving economic outlook and its efforts to fight corruption.

The new poll shows economic expectations falling in the pandemic and 39.7% of respondents believe corruption will get worse with the resignation of former Justice Minister Sergio Moro last month. Only 12% think the war against corruption can advance now.