Pandemic accelerates in Latin America, India
Mexico, Brazil report record counts of new virus infections, deaths
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.
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.