Brazil overtakes Russian Federation in coronavirus cases; now second highest

Elias Hubbard
May 23, 2020

The grim milestone on Friday came as the World Health Organization (WHO) called South America "a new epicentre" of the deadly virus, with the WHO's emergencies director, Mike Ryan, expressing most concern for Brazil.

Russian Federation moves down to third in the world for the number of coronavirus infections with 326,448 cases, including 3249 deaths.

The region has to date registered over 645,000 cases and nearly 36,000 deaths.

Officials say almost 19,000 people have died of the coronavirus in Brazil so far, and experts warn that low testing rates mean the true number of cases is likely far higher. Officials say there are 145,000 tests still awaiting results.

Health systems in various states have gone over capacity, with overwhelmed intensive care units unable to take in new COVID-19 patients, and experts say rising numbers of people are dying at home.

In terms of diagnosing the virus, Brazil is not only far behind Russian Federation and the United States, but even behind other countries in the region such as Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Colombia, which have smaller economies. The nation's Federal Nursing Council attributes the surge in COVID-19 deaths among medical employees to a lack of preparation.

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The virus has also begun spreading rapidly through impoverished areas and communities situated on the outskirts of the cities. Residents living in the favelas have difficulty observing social distancing guidelines due to cramped and poor sanitary conditions.

Trump told reporters on Tuesday that he is considering enacting a travel ban on Brazil.

Governments are still struggling to balance measures to halt the virus - and to head off a feared possible second wave of infections - with moves to reopen their battered economies. State governors have defied him and imposed strict stay-at-home measures.

On Monday, São Paulo Mayor Bruno Covas said that the city's public hospitals had reached 90 percent capacity and that in only two weeks they will no longer be able to support the influx of patients.

Bolsonaro referred to the "scorched earth" policy of closing businesses and schools and restricting public transportation.

We know that Brazil has at least a quarter of a thousand people infected with the coronavirus, but the number of tests it has done is so small in relation to the size of its population that it is not even one per thousand people.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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