Brazil set daily records for new coronavirus cases and associated deaths with nearly 1,600 deaths on Wednesday and a government led by President Jair Bolsonaro determined to ease lockdowns meant to quell the epidemic.
Brazil comes second behind the United States in the number of confirmed cases and deaths from the coronavirus.
The 69,074 new confirmed cases and 1,595 additional deaths reported by the health ministry have pushed the country to exceed 2.5 million cases and a death toll of more than 90,000 people.
The increase in the death toll, however, was in part due to the fact that the country’s most populous state, Sao Paulo, reported the death toll over two days rather than one.
The previous toll of Brazil’s record single-day death toll was established on June 4, when 1,473 deaths were reported. Deaths have increased for five consecutive weeks as the coronavirus spread to new areas, averaging more than 1,000 deaths per day.
Authorities say Sao Paulo did not report deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday due to a count problem. As a result, the 713 deaths confirmed on Wednesday included two-day figures. The state also reported 26,000 new cases.
President Jair Bolsonaro has fought against restrictions on economic activity, and the disease has progressed as governors and mayors bowed to the pressure the capital, Brasilia.
In some cases, Brazilians have crowded into crowded bars and public places without masks, often in defiance of local rules.
Global proving ground
Last week, Brazil recorded 7,677 deaths from COVID-19, the highest number of deaths in a week since the start of the pandemic, despite repeated claims that the epidemic has peaked.
“Brazil is going through the worst phase of the pandemic,” said Alexandre Naime, head of the infectious diseases department at Sao Paulo State University.
“Paradoxically, public policies and personal behaviors are going in the opposite direction, as if we are not experiencing a daily tragedy,” he added.
Bolsonaro’s government on Wednesday said it would lift the ban on foreign travelers from traveling to the country that was imposed in March as long as they have health insurance coverage for their trip.
New hot spots are also appearing across the country.
While Sao Paulo and neighboring Rio de Janeiro were the first to be affected by the virus, health officials have expressed growing concern over epidemics in the center-west and far south of the country as it approaches. winter.
“We present national data but it is as if we [multiple] COVID-19 pandemics with different regions of the country behave differently, ”Health Vigilance Secretary Arnaldo Correia de Medeiros said during a televised press briefing.
The scale of the epidemic has made Brazil a global testing ground for pharmaceutical companies to test potential vaccines.
A Brazilian research institute said on Wednesday it had reached a deal with China’s Sinopharm to start what would be the fourth significant trial of a potential vaccine in the country.
Bolsonaro himself has flouted social distancing guidelines by joining supporters at rallies around Brasilia in recent months. He fell ill with the coronavirus this month and spent weeks in partial isolation before recovering.
The right-wing populist argued that the economic damage from the lockdowns is worse than the disease itself, which he downplayed as “a little flu” that can be cured with unproven treatments, involving hydroxychloroquine, a antimalarial drug.