Coronavirus: Brazil records a record jump in cases while it overtakes France in terms of deaths

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Brazil has reported a record 33,274 new cases of new coronavirus, its death toll exceeding that of France and now ranking below the United States, Great Britain and Italy.

The South American nation has reported 498,440 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the start of the epidemic, a level of contagion just behind the United States.

The death toll in Brazil from Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, has risen to 28,834, with 956 new deaths in the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Health said.

The latest death toll in the United States was 103,781, according to a count by John Hopkins University, while the United Kingdom recorded 38,458 deaths and Italy 33,340.

Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro remain the hardest-hit states in terms of numbers, while per capita rates are higher in the poor north and northeast of the country, where health facilities reach their maximum capacity .

The health ministry said “there is no way to predict” when the country’s epidemic will peak, and experts say the number of cases could be 15 times higher than the confirmed figure as it there have been no generalized tests.

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Coronavirus worldwide

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The pandemic spreads across Brazil in a cloud of confrontation, as governors and mayors apply restrictive measures while President Jair Bolsonaro, who has put his reelection hopes on a booming economy, has chastised them for to have imposed what he calls “the tyranny of total quarantine”.

Differences with the president over policy have led to the departure of two health ministers since the start of the epidemic. Bolsonaro called on states to loosen locks so people can get back to work, while dismissing Covid-19 as “a little flu” despite nearly 370,000 deaths among the 6 million cases reported to date in the world.

Latin America’s largest economy cut five million jobs in the first quarter of this year, bringing unemployment to 12.6%, according to figures released Thursday by the Brazilian statistics institute IBGE.

Friday, Bolsonaro offered to resume the Brazilian football season despite the growing number of cases. “As footballers are young athletes, the risk of death if they catch a coronavirus would be greatly reduced,” he told Radio Guaiba.

He said his main motivation for football to resume was to curb unemployment and the misery that accompanied it.

“Players have to survive in one way or another,” he said, explaining that if some top players earn a fortune, those in the smaller regional leagues must play “to feed their families.”

When football was suspended, the regional seasons were underway, but the national championship was due to start in May and there are no solid plans yet to start.

Mr. Bolsonaro and his son held meetings on May 19 with the presidents of two Rio superclubs, Vasco da Gama and Flamengo.

Photos of the president and his son wearing the two clubs’ shirts stunned social media, with groups of official supporters claiming their image had been sold to politics.

However, Bolsonaro does not have the power to order the restart of football, which must be done by the states and municipalities in the region.

Updated: May 31, 2020 3:52 p.m.

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