Health News

Brazil’s death toll surges to third-highest, daily toll hits record high

Health authorities in Brazil logged 30,830 new cases of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), as well as 1,005 deaths in 24 hours, on Friday night.

The new figures bring the country’s total caseload to 619,491 and total deaths to 34,021, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. On Thursday, the country’s death toll from the coronavirus surpassed Italy’s to become the third-highest in the world. Only the U.S. and the U.K. have higher death tolls at 109,143 and 40,344, respectively.

However, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro made no mention of the increase in an online broadcast Thursday, as he slammed state efforts to head off the spread of the coronavirus with quarantine and social distancing.

“We can’t go on like this. Nobody can take it anymore,” he added. “The collateral impact will be far greater than those people who unfortunately lost their lives because of these last three months here.”

The president’s response to the ongoing pandemic has been panned by critics and public health experts alike. For instance, reopening too soon, warns Miguel Lago of Brazil’s Institute for Health Policy Studies, can likely cause a surge in infections. In addition, this adds more pressure on hospitals, most of which are already strained by the pandemic.

“I am very worried … We are going to witness hospitals collapsing in almost every state,” he noted. “I think the worst is still to come.”

Sao Paolo state remains to be the epicenter of the coronavirus in the country, with over 129,200 reported cases. Rio de Janeiro and Ceara – two of the most populous regions in Brazil – have more than 60,900 and 59,700 cases, respectively. The three states, in particular, make up nearly 40 percent of all cases in the country. In addition, 70 percent of Brazilian cities have already reported a coronavirus case.

According to Lago, the president is solely responsible for Brazil’s unraveling. In particular, Bolsonaro’s continued push to reopen the economy, even at the cost of undermining social distancing, is a political move to increase his chances of reelection in 2022.

“He doesn’t care about the lives of the Brazilians who will die because of his absolutely irresponsible behavior,” he added.

For civil society activist Jose Manoel Ferreira Goncalves, the president’s response to the crisis is “shameful” and will condemn the country to carnage.

Mexico also reports uptick in deaths

In Mexico, authorities reported 816 deaths on Thursday, bringing the country’s total to 13,170. As of this week, the country currently has 110,026 confirmed cases, up by over 20,000 from last week’s figures.

Despite the grim figures, the country has made moves to reopen, against the advice of medical experts. This week, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador went on a six-state tour to mark the end of the national lockdown.

“We have to head toward the new normality because the national economy and the well-being of the people [depend] on it,” the president said during a stop in Cancun. “We need to little by little normalize social, economic and cultural activities. I repeat, carefully.”

He also dismissed media reports about the country’s death toll, saying these are “alarmist and irresponsible.”

Dr. Hugo Lopez-Gatell Ramirez, the country’s coronavirus czar, also said that the country will reopen gradually. At the moment, virus-free communities, as well as the mining, construction and auto industries, and select businesses will be allowed to resume operations. (Related: Coronavirus Case Fatality Rate (CFR) now over 18% for France, 14% for Italy, 12% for Spain, 10% for Mexico and so far 6% for the USA… orders of magnitude higher than the regular flu.)

But he also admitted that despite the measures, Mexico is “still a long way from the end of this epidemic,” warning that deaths could even reach 20,000. A report by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington last month also made a similar prediction, saying that Mexico could have up to 16,795 by early August. has more on the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

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