Members of the "Tempero de Criola" band perform in the Turano favela, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A group of musicians playing Samba offered a small concert to the residents of Turano favela, most of whom remain quarantined to curb the spread of Covid-19. Residents could watch the performance from their windows, balconies or via internet. Picture: Silvia Izquierdo/AP
Members of the "Tempero de Criola" band perform in the Turano favela, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A group of musicians playing Samba offered a small concert to the residents of Turano favela, most of whom remain quarantined to curb the spread of Covid-19. Residents could watch the performance from their windows, balconies or via internet. Picture: Silvia Izquierdo/AP

Brazil passes 1 million Covid-19 cases with no end in sight

By Pedro Fonseca And Gabriel Stargardter Time of article published Jun 20, 2020

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Rio de Janiero- Brazil passed 1 million

coronavirus cases on Friday and approached 50 000 deaths, a new

nadir for the world's second worst-hit country as it struggles

with a tense political climate and worsening economic outlook.

Second only to the United States in both cases and deaths,

Brazil confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus on February 26. The virus has spread relentlessly across the continent-sized

country, eroding support for right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro

and raising fears of economic collapse after years of anemic

growth.

Brazil reported 1 032 913 confirmed cases on Friday, with

1 206 new deaths to take total official fatalities to 48 954,

the Health Ministry said. Friday also saw a new record daily

number of cases, with 54 771, suggesting the outbreak is far

from over. Brazil is likely to surpass 50 000 deaths on

Saturday, although weekend reporting can be lower.

Even so, the true extent of the outbreak far exceeds the

official figures, according to many experts, who cite a lack of

widespread testing.

"That number of 1 million is much less than the real number

of people who have been infected, because there is

under-reporting of a magnitude of five to 10 times," said

Alexandre Naime Barbosa, a medical professor at the São Paulo

State University. "The true number is probably at least 3

million and could even be as high as 10 million people."

Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, arrived in

Brazil via wealthy tourists returning from Europe to major

southeastern cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and has

spread deep into the interior, reaching 82% of Brazil's

municipalities, Health Ministry data showed.

Bolsonaro, sometimes called the "Tropical Trump," has been

widely criticized for his handling of the crisis. The country

still has had no permanent health minister after losing two

since April, following clashes with the president.

Bolsonaro has shunned social distancing, calling it a

job-killing measure more dangerous than the virus itself. He has

also promoted two anti-malarial drugs as remedies, chloroquine

and hydroxychloroquine, despite little evidence they work.

The far-right former army captain's handling of the crisis

has prompted Brazilians to bang pots and pans regularly outside

their apartments in protest, but it has not stopped him from

wading into costly political battles with his own cabinet and

the Supreme Court, stoking fears of instability.

Pressure from Bolsonaro and public fatigue after months of

ineffective state and local isolation orders has led governors

and mayors to begin lifting restrictions on commerce and other

economic activity.

Public health experts have warned that loosening

restrictions too soon threatens to accelerate contagion and

drive up fatalities.

A worsening outbreak could weigh on already-grim economic

forecasts. The government has said the economy will contract by

4.7% this year, while economists surveyed by the central bank

think it will fall more than 6%.

Latin America has registered 90,439 deaths, according to a

Reuters tally, with nearly 2 million cases.

Reuters

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