Brazil has suffered a record 68,000 new coronavirus cases, while South Africa has seen its biggest daily spike in deaths as the crisis continues to worsen in two of the world’s worst-affected countries.
In Brazil, the 67,860 new cases announced last night broke the previous record of 54,771 on June 19, bringing the country’s total to 2.2 million.
The outbreak in Brazil is the second largest in the world, while South Africa is fifth with 394,948 cases, of which 13,183 were discovered in the past 24 hours.
South Africa’s death toll rose by 572, more than in the previous four days combined, bringing the total to 5,940.
CASE OF BRAZIL: Brazil experienced a record daily peak of 67,860 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing the country’s total to 2.2 million
BRAZIL DEATHS: 1,284 other deaths in the country brought the total to 82,771, just behind the United States
SOUTH AFRICA CASE: The country has frequently seen more than 10,000 new cases per day and now has the largest outbreak in Africa
SOUTH AFRICAN DEATHS: Officials announced a massive spike of 572 new deaths last night, bringing the total to 5,940
Brazil’s total number of cases is now 2,227,514, while its toll stands at 82,771 after 1,284 more deaths were recorded in 24 hours.
The two numbers are second only to the United States, and experts say the subtest means the actual numbers are likely much higher.
The World Health Organization expressed optimism last week that the epidemic in Brazil has finally plateaued, saying the country has an opportunity to “take control.”
But although the level of daily infections appears to have stabilized until today’s outbreak, it remains high with an average of over 30,000 cases per day.
President Jair Bolsonaro has been severely criticized for downplaying the virus and attacking social distancing measures adopted by state and local authorities.
Bolsonaro has been in quarantine at the presidential palace since July 7 after contracting the virus himself.
His office announced yesterday that he had tested positive again, saying he would continue his quarantine and suspend his upcoming travel plans.
Bolsonaro, 65, praised hydroxychloroquine, an unproven antimalarial drug, as a cure for Covid-19, following in Donald Trump’s footsteps.
Margareth Dalcomo, an expert from Brazil’s main public health institute Fiocruz, said Bolsonaro’s promotion of the drug was “deplorable”.
“This politicization of drugs by the American and Brazilian presidents for obscure reasons has no justification and it is misleading people,” she said.
Bolsonaro is his third health minister since the pandemic hit Brazil five months ago, after falling out with two doctors who previously held the post over their recommendations on containing the virus.
The current acting minister is Eduardo Pazuello, a military general with no previous medical experience.
BRAZIL: Members of a military fire brigade dressed in white protective suits yesterday push an isolation stretcher towards a helicopter in Belo Horizonte
SOUTH AFRICA: A funeral director wearing personal protective equipment watches an excavator fill a grave during the funeral of a coronavirus victim in Johannesburg yesterday
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro gives a heartfelt gesture to supporters outside Alvorada Presidential Palace in Brasilia last night as he remains positive for Covid-19
Meanwhile, South Africa is the worst affected country on the continent and now ranks among the top five in the world in terms of confirmed cases.
The country’s National Communicable Disease Institute announced 13,183 new cases last night after performing nearly 50,000 tests in the past 24 hours.
The institute offered its “deepest condolences” after announcing 572 other deaths during the same period.
Almost half of the total number of deaths have been reported in the Western Cape Province, which includes Cape Town.
Meanwhile, the majority of positive cases are in Gauteng – South Africa’s financial center and the epicenter of the outbreak.
The fatality rate remained low, however, at around 1.5% on Wednesday.
Almost 60% of Covid-19 patients in the country have recovered from the virus, according to official figures.
To add to the crisis, two South African ministers were this week hospitalized with coronavirus, the government announced on Tuesday.
Labor Minister Thulas Nxesi, 61, and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, 65, were admitted to hospital separately on Monday.
Cabinet spokeswoman Phumla Williams said in a statement they had been hospitalized on the advice of their doctors for “better medical attention” and better follow-up.
Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula tested positive but has since recovered, the government said on Friday.
Besides the United States and Brazil, India and Russia are also ahead of South Africa in the global ranking of cases of the virus.
India last week became the third country in the world to record one million confirmed cases, while Russia has recorded nearly 800,000 infections.