Pan­demic ac­cel­er­ates in Latin Amer­ica, In­dia

Mex­ico, Brazil re­port record counts of new virus in­fec­tions, deaths

Toronto Star - - WORLD - DAVID BILLER AND CHRISTO­PHER SHER­MAN

RIO DE JANEIRO— The coron­avirus pan­demic ac­cel­er­ated across Latin Amer­ica on Fri­day, bring­ing a surge of new in­fec­tions and deaths, even as curves flat­tened and re­open­ing was un­der­way in much of Europe, Asia and the United States.

Mex­ico and Brazil re­ported record counts of new cases and deaths al­most daily this week, fu­elling crit­i­cism of their pres­i­dents, who have slow-walked shut­downs in at­tempts to limit eco­nomic dam­age.

Brazil re­ported more than 20,000 deaths and 300,000 con­firmed cases, mak­ing it the third worst-hit coun­try in the world by of­fi­cial counts. Experts con­sider both num­bers un­der­counts due to the wide­spread lack of test­ing.

In­fec­tions rose and in­ten­sive care units were also swamped in Peru, Chile and Ecuador, coun­tries lauded for im­pos­ing early and ag­gres­sive busi­ness shut­downs and quar­an­tines. Many experts said the ris­ing death toll across Latin Amer­ica showed the lim­its of govern­ment ac­tion in a re­gion where mil­lions labour in in­for­mal jobs and many po­lice forces are weak or cor­rupt and un­able to en­force re­stric­tions.

Mex­ico passed 6,000 con­firmed deaths on Wed­nes­day. The coun­try has re­cently re­ported more than 400 deaths a day, and new in­fec­tions still have not peaked.

Many deaths cat­e­go­rized as “atyp­i­cal pneu­mo­nia” are sus­pected of be­ing COVID-19, but not in­cluded in the of­fi­cial count. The true count may be sev­eral times higher. Many govern­ments — even those where the virus is still on the rise — say they must shift their fo­cus to sav­ing jobs that are van­ish­ing as quickly as the disease can spread. In the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies, unem­ploy­ment is soar­ing.

Mean­while, In­dia saw its big­gest sin­gle-day spike since the pan­demic be­gan, and Pak­istan and Rus­sia recorded their high­est death tolls. Most new In­dian cases are in Bi­har state, where thou­sands re­turned home from jobs in the cities.

Also in Rus­sia, news agen­cies re­ported that the au­thor­i­tar­ian leader of the south­ern re­gion of Chech­nya was taken to a Moscow hospi­tal with sus­pected COVID-19 symp­toms. Ramzan Kady­rov, 43, has run pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim Chech­nya with an iron fist since 2007. The Krem­lin has re­lied on him to keep the North Cau­ca­sus re­gion sta­ble af­ter two dev­as­tat­ing sep­a­ratist wars.

AARON FAVILA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

A stu­dent’s pic­ture is seen on a tablet placed on a robot dur­ing a “cy­ber-grad­u­a­tion” cer­e­mony at a school in Manila, Philip­pines, on Fri­day.

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