Brazil tops 10,000 deaths from COVID

Kuwait Times - - Internatio­nal -

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil, the hard­est-hit Latin Amer­i­can coun­try in the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, has sur­passed 10,000 deaths, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­leased Satur­day by the Min­istry of Health. While Brazil’s num­bers are high - 10,627 deaths and 155,939 con­firmed cases - sci­en­tists think the real fig­ures could be 15 or even 20 times worse, given the coun­try’s in­abil­ity to carry out wide­spread test­ing. Congress and the Supreme Court de­creed an of­fi­cial mourning pe­riod of three days and law­mak­ers asked Brazil­ians to fol­low health author­i­ties’ rec­om­men­da­tions to re­duce in­fec­tion rates while the coun­try pre­pares for “a safe and de­fin­i­tive re­turn back to nor­mal.”

Mean­while Pres­i­dent Jair Bol­sonaro, who op­poses stay-at-home mea­sures due to their im­pact on the coun­try’s econ­omy, was seen jet ski­ing on Lake Para­noa in Brasilia, ac­cord­ing to the Metropoles news web­site. Of­fi­cials told AFP he did not plan to make a state­ment on the coun­try reach­ing 10,000 deaths. In the last 24 hours alone, the na­tion saw 10,611 new cases and 730 fa­tal­i­ties, Brazil’s se­cond-high­est daily death toll, af­ter a record set on Fri­day (751 deaths).

‘Sit­u­a­tion is dire’

Re­sist­ing pres­sure from Bol­sonaro, the gov­er­nors of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro states have said they will ex­tend the par­tial quar­an­tine mea­sures in force since March un­til the end of May. The pan­demic has given rise to on­go­ing gov­ern­men­tal clashes, pit­ting the pres­i­dent against gov­er­nors and may­ors who have im­ple­mented so­cial dis­tanc­ing and con­fine­ment mea­sures to con­tain the virus’ spread — ef­forts sup­ported by the coun­try’s Supreme Court. In an­nounc­ing that his state’s lock­down would be pro­longed, Sao Paulo Gover­nor Joao Do­ria said Fri­day: “We are at the height of this pan­demic. The sit­u­a­tion is dire.” His south­east­ern state of al­most 46 mil­lion in­hab­i­tants has seen more than 3,600 deaths and over 44,400 cases.

Neigh­bor­ing Rio de Janeiro state, home to more than 16 mil­lion peo­ple, fol­lows with 1,653 deaths and 16,929 in­fec­tions. Less pop­u­lated states such as Ceara, Per­nam­buco and Ama­zonas al­ready have around a thou­sand dead each. Ama­zonas, home to a num­ber of indige­nous tribes that are ex­tremely vul­ner­a­ble to the virus, has recorded 232 deaths per mil­lion in­hab­i­tants, al­most three times the rate in Sao Paulo state. While Brazil’s coro­n­avirus peak is not ex­pected for sev­eral more weeks, seven states have al­ready seen their in­ten­sive care units fill to 90 per­cent ca­pac­ity.

Bol­sonaro, who has com­pared the coro­n­avirus to a “lit­tle flu,” tweeted Satur­day that the coun­try’s “army of un­em­ployed con­tin­ues to grow” in ref­er­ence to a fac­tory clo­sure in the north­east, be­fore ask­ing “is chaos com­ing?” On Thurs­day the coun­try’s econ­omy min­is­ter, Paulo Guedes, said Brazil could face “eco­nomic col­lapse” in a month’s time due to stay-at-home mea­sures. Ac­cord­ing to the IMF, Brazil risks a 5.3 per­cent con­trac­tion in GDP this year. World­wide the virus has claimed more than 277,000 lives and the num­ber of coro­n­avirus cases has sur­passed four mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to an AFP tally.

— AFP

MANAUS, Brazil: A man car­ries a cof­fin out of a ship upon ar­rival to at­tend to the high de­mand due to the high num­ber of deaths re­lated to the new coro­n­avirus at Manaus Port on May 8, 2020.

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