Over a million Covid-19 cases and 50,000 deaths in Brazil

Pandemic victims buried in cement in Brazil (Fabio Teixeira - Anadolu Agency). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

SAO PAULO, JUn 20, 2020, MercoPress. Brazil on Friday (Jun 19) passed a total of more than 1 million COVID-19 cases, and nearly 50,000 deaths, according to Health Ministry data, in a new nadir for the world’s second worst-hit country, MercoPress reported.

Brazil has recorded 1,032,913 confirmed cases, second only to the United States, with 1,206 new deaths reported on Friday to take the total official fatalities to 48,954, the ministry said.

Brazil confirmed its first case of the virus on Feb 26. It 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.

The true extent of the outbreak in Brazil far exceeds official figures released after 6pm (2100 GMT) on most evenings, according to many experts, who cite a lack of widespread testing in the country as a factor adding to many uncertainties about the disease.

“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 Sao Paulo State University.

“The true number is probably at least 3 million and could even be as high as 10 million people.” The count has risen by a daily average of 25,000 new cases and 1,000 fatalities for the past week.

But by Friday afternoon, a consortium of Brazilian news outlets keeping an independent tally of COVID-19 statistics from state health officials reported the country had already passed the benchmark of 1 million confirmed cases.

COVID-19 arrived in Brazil via wealthy tourists returning from Europe to major southeastern cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but has spread deep into the interior, reaching 82 per cent of Brazil’s municipalities, health ministry data shows.

Bolsonaro 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 that was more dangerous than the virus itself. He has promoted two anti-malarial drugs as remedies, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, despite little evidence they work.

The 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.

Share it

Exclusive: Beyond the Covid-19 world's coverage