Coronavirus: Brazil cases soar past 600,000 as death toll overtakes Italy

Kate Ng
·2 min read
A victim of covid19 is buried in the cemetery of Inhauma, north of Rio de Janeiro: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
A victim of covid19 is buried in the cemetery of Inhauma, north of Rio de Janeiro: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The coronavirus outbreak in Brazil has steadily worsened as the number of infections rose to nearly 615,000 and it overtook Italy as the country with the third-highest number of Covid-19 deaths.

On Thursday, Brazil’s health ministry reported a daily record of 1,473 fatalities, taking its death toll to more 34,021. The countries with higher death tolls than Brazil are the US, which has the most number of fatalities, followed by the UK.

Latin America as a whole has become a new focus of the coronavirus pandemic, as Mexico reported a record number of new cases and total deaths there surpassed 12,000.

Health officials urged regional governments not to end quarantine measures to avoid more cases, but regional leaders have pushed to lift restrictions and reopen their economies.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro had downplayed the pandemic since it began, strongly criticising social distancing measures and encouraged regional government to lift restrictions for the sake of the economy.

“We were lucky that the pandemic did not his us first and that allowed us to prepare ourselves, that we did not lack beds, that all the sick could be hospitalised,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

His comments come after reports of morgues and storage rooms full of bodies, indicating the number of people who have died from the coronavirus could be much higher than official government figures.

According to Sky News, an anonymous government official said last month the actual mortality rate was at least five times higher than the figures published by the government.

In Rio de Janeiro, which has been hit hard by the outbreak, the mayor allowed over 10,000 street vendors to go back to work on Thursday. According to John Hopkins University, there are over 60,932 positive coronavirus cases in the city, with 6,327 deaths.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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told Brazilians

According to Spanish-language newspaper El Universal