Brazil reports record 1,262 Covid-19 deaths as surge continues

RIO DE JANEIRO (BLOOMBERG) – Brazil had a record day of Covid-19 deaths as the virus shows no signs of easing in Latin America’s largest economy.

The country reported 1,262 new deaths on Tuesday (June 2), bringing the number of fatalities to 31,199. There were also 28,936 new reported cases, pushing the country’s total to 555,383, behind only the US.

The nation of 210 million people has become an epicentre of the virus in the last few weeks. Brazil’s peak has not yet arrived, and “at the moment it is not possible to predict when it will arrive”, Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organisation’s Emergencies Programme, said on Monday.

The government of President Jair Bolsonaro has resisted social distancing efforts throughout the pandemic, with Mr Bolsonaro often mingling with supporters and pushing for people to get back to work to ease the economic fallout of the crisis.

Contradicting orders from municipal, state and federal leaders have sabotaged the country’s ability to fight the virus, which has now migrated from wealthier regions to more vulnerable regions – such as the poor Northeast, favelas, and indigenous territories in the Amazon – where public health systems are precarious to begin with.

After about two months of loosely enforced quarantines, some regions of the country have begun to reopen from lockdowns. The state of Sao Paulo, the country’s richest, has instituted a colour-coded system which allows some regions to open businesses already.

On Tuesday, the state reported almost 7,000 new infections and 327 deaths in the last 24 hours, both record numbers. The state, which accounts for about a third of Brazil’s economy, has been the epicentre of the disease in the country, with more than 118,000 cases and almost 8,000 fatalities.

With winter approaching the Southern Hemisphere, the country is entering a period of increased cases of respiratory diseases, further adding to concern that the peak may still be weeks away.

The Health Ministry said last week that the curve of cases was still growing, and a report by UBS published on Wednesday said that six of Brazil’s 27 states are peaking, while total deaths are increasing in 21 states.

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