With more than 330,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, Brazil on Friday surpassed Russia to become the nation with the second-highest number of infections, behind only the United States, reported Al Jazeera.
The surge was reported as the World Health Organization (WHO) called South America a newly emerging epicentre of the deadly virus, with the WHO’s emergencies director, Mike Ryan, expressing most concern for Brazil.
“In a sense, South America has become a new epicentre for the disease. We have seen many South American countries with increasing numbers of cases,” Ryan told a virtual news conference.
“Clearly there is a concern across many of those countries, but clearly the most affected is Brazil at this point,” he said.
According to the health ministry of Brazil, the country registered 1,001 daily coronavirus deaths on Friday, taking the total deaths to 21,048. It is expected that the real number of both cases and deaths could be higher than what is being reported as Latin America’s top economy has been slow to ramp up testing.
The United States has registered more than 1.6 million cases and nearly 96,000 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Russia has registered 326,488 cases and 3,200 deaths.
The coronavirus death tally in Brazil is currently the sixth-highest in the world, behind the United States, Britain, Italy, Spain, and France. Notably, about half of African countries are experiencing community transmission of the virus.
Last week, Sao Paulo’s mayor warned that its health system could be burdened very soon if residents don’t follow social distancing guidelines. Officials in the city of 12 million have declared a five-day holiday in a bid to get residents to stay home.
But President Jair Bolsonaro continues to dismiss the threat of the virus, saying quarantines and lockdowns could have a worse impact on Brazil’s economy.