Brazil sets grim milestone as COVID-19 deaths top 100,000
Rio de Janeiro: Brazil surpassed a grim milestone of 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday night, and five months after the first reported case the country has not shown signs of crushing the disease.
The nation of 210 million people has been reporting an average of more than 1,000 daily deaths from the pandemic since late May and reported 905 for the latest 24-hour period.
The Health Ministry said there had been a total of 3,012,412 confirmed infections with the new Coronavirus death and infection tolls second only to the United States. And as in many nations, experts believe that both numbers are severe undercounts due to insufficient testing.
Meanwhile, the confirmed number of Coronavirus cases in the US reached 5 million Sunday, by far the highest in the world, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.
However, health officials believe that for every reported case, there are roughly 10 times as many people infected, given the limits on testing and the large number of mild infections that have unreported or unrecognised.
The bleak milestone was reached as new cases in the U.S. run at about 54,000 a day. While that's down from a peak of well over 70,000 in the second half of July, cases are rising in nearly 20 states, and deaths are climbing in most. Many Americans have resisted wearing masks and social distancing.
While in Brazil, the non-governmental group Rio de Paz placed crosses on the sand on the famed Copacabana beach and released 1,000 red balloons into the sky in a tribute to COVID-19 victims on Saturday morning,.
It's very sad. Those 100,000 represent various families, friends, parents, children, said Marcio do Nascimento Silva, a 56-year-old taxi driver who lost his children in the pandemic and joined the tribute.
"We reach that mark (100,000) and many people seem to not see it, both among the government and our people. They are not just numbers but people. Death became normal, Silva said.
President Jair Bolsonaro who himself reported being infected has been a consistent skeptic about the impact of the disease and an advocate of lifting restrictions on the economy that had been imposed by state governors trying to combat it. He has frequently mingled in crowds, sometimes without a mask.
On the day that Brazil reached more than 100,000 deaths, the federal government's communication secretariat confronted criticism from former Justice Minister Sergio Moro on social media for the management of the pandemic.
There are many numbers that deserve to be disclosed: - ALMOST 3 MILLION LIVES SAVED OR IN RECOVERY - ONE OF THE LOWEST DEATHS PER MILLION AMONG LARGE NATIONS, said the secretariat's official account on Twitter, sharing Moro's tweet. Bolsonaro answered the tweet with an emoji of shaking hands.
Experts have complained of a lack of national coordination under Bolsonaro and scattershot responses by city and state governments, with some reopening earlier than health experts recommended.
Administrative incompetence ruined our chance to have a good response to COVID," said Miguel Lago, executive director of Brazil's Institute for Health Policy Studies, which advises public health officials.
Brazil is facing the pandemic with an interim health minister, Eduardo Pazuello, an army general who made his career in logistics.
Two earlier health ministers, both physicians, exited over differences with Bolsonaro about social distance measures and the use of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug promoted by the president but which most studies have found to be inteffective against COVID-19, or even dangerous.
Bolsonaro, who has called COVID-19 a little flu , says he recovered from his own infection thanks to that drug.
Many of Brazil's 27 states have begun to reopen shops and restaurants, though responses have differed, as has the strain on the health
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