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International

Brazil reaches 150,000 deaths from COVID-19 milestone

October 11, 2020 07:28 AM

RIO DE JANEIRO, 10.10.2020
Brazil’s count of COVID-19 deaths surpassed 150, 000 on Saturday night, despite signs the pandemic is slowly retreating in Latin America's largest nation.

The Brazilian Health Ministry reported that the death toll now stands at 150, 198. The figure is the world’s second highest behind the United States, according to the tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro played down the severity of the virus while deaths mounted rapidly in Brazil. The 65-year-old president flouted social distancing at lively demonstrations and encouraged crowds during outings from the presidential residence.

Bolsonaro rejected governors’ and mayors’ lockdowns and other tough measures to contain the virus’ spread, even after he contracted it himself in July, and insisted that shutting down Brazil’s economy would pitch the nation into chaos.

“Life goes on. Brazil needs to produce, ” he said on July 7 in Brasilia when he announced he was infected.

Moura’s hometown of Manaus became a horror show early on in the pandemic. Between April and May, the health system collapsed in the city as patients were turned away from full hospitals and overwhelmed cemeteries were forced to dig mass graves. The capital of Amazonas state has had 122 deaths per 100, 000 inhabitants, far above the national average of 71 per 100, 000. The nation of 210 million people surpassed 5 million confirmed infections on Wednesday, according to official data.

There have been recent signs of relief in Brazil. Over the last month and a half, the viral curve has dropped. The average number of deaths sat at 598 over the last 7 days, the lowest level since the beginning of May.

The mayors of large cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro continue to reopen activities like cinemas and schools, even as public health experts warn of possible new outbreaks.

Manaus, where restrictions were relaxed, registered an increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks that led to speculation of a possible second wave. Local authorities reinstituted restrictions on commerce and activity, and shut down the riverside beach.
- AP

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