Brazil passes 3,000 coronavirus deaths

A worker builds vertical graves during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic at the Caju Cemetery in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (AFP Photo/MAURO PIMENTEL)
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Brasília (AFP) - Brazil recorded 407 deaths from the coronavirus in 24 hours, the highest daily toll since the start of the pandemic, the Health Ministry said Thursday.

The most populous country in Latin America and the region's largest economy, Brazil has now recorded 3,313 coronavirus deaths, out of a total 49,492 confirmed cases, the ministry added.

The toll continues to increase as right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro regularly expresses his impatience with restrictions imposed by the state governors to slow the disease's spread.

Health Minister Nelson Teich, who took office on Friday after the controversial firing of his predecessor, said it was premature to attribute the rise in deaths to a surge in COVID-19 infections.

He suggested it could instead be the result of an increase in testing.

Teich said Wednesday that authorities were working on a plan to restart economic activity, in line with the wishes of Bolsonaro, who is highly critical of containment measures that he sees as crippling the economy.

Sao Paulo, the hardest-hit state with a third of the country's cases, plans to gradually resume economic activity -- sector by sector -- from May 11.

Rio de Janeiro and southeastern Minas Gerais states are preparing similar measures, while the federal district of Brasilia and southern Santa Catarina state have already resumed certain activities.

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