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Brazil tallies 1 million COVID-19 cases, 50,000 deaths amid reopening

Posted: Sunday, June 21, 2020. 8:36 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: With 1 million cases and close to 50,000 dead as of Friday, Brazil is confronting the spectre of becoming the country with the world’s deadliest outbreak of COVID-19 by later this summer, according to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg’s reporters say the country has no consistent strategy in place to halt the spread of the virus in Latin America’s biggest economy – an issue echoed in others like Mexico, Chile, and Venezuela.

Brazil’s predicament, Bloomberg says, like in the U.S., can be traced to reopening and social distancing measures being lifted. After months of being cooped up at home, Brazilians are flocking to shopping centers, beauty salons and beaches.

Unfortunately, Brazil saw an all-time high of 54,771 new cases and 1,206 more virus-related fatalities on Friday, June 19 alone.

Estimates from PUC University in Rio de Janeiro put the disease on course to top 1.3 million infections later this month, with 57,000 dead. The U.S. has recorded more than 119,000 coronavirus-related deaths as of today, Saturday.

University of Pelotas researchers estimate there may be six unreported cases for every diagnosis across 120 cities they studied.

Brazil’s response to the pandemic has been plagued by political infighting and mismatched quarantine orders, making it harder for experts to pinpoint when the disease will peak in the country of 210 million people. President Jair Bolsonaro is pursuing a jobs-over-the-pandemic drive to reopen the economy, leading to clashes with local governments.

A second wave of Covid-19 would deepen this year’s recession in Latin America’s three largest economies by more than 1 percentage point, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reported Wednesday. Argentina and Brazil would suffer the biggest hits, shrinking by 10% and 9.1%, respectively. Mexico would contract 8.6%, according to the OECD.

Brazilian Economy Minister Paulo Guedes has warned the country’s recession could turn into a depression.

Rio de Janeiro’s health secretary said this week the state has little choice but to abandon social-distancing measures, according to the G1 news website. While reopening may fuel a new wave of cases, the state will soon run out of money to pay doctors if tax collection doesn’t bounce back, he was quoted as saying.

“We’re restarting things too soon,” said Atila Iamarino, a biologist at the University of Sao Paulo. It’s “a delicate time for the pandemic.”


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