Brazil surpasses 16 million Covid cases, nearing 450,000 deaths

Sao Paulo, May 23 (EFE).- Brazil surpassed 16 million confirmed Covid-19 cases on Sunday and is nearing 450,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic a year and three months ago, the government reported Sunday.

According to the latest tally released by the Health Ministry, the South American giant registered 860 deaths and 35,819 newly confirmed coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, although health authorities have reiterated that such figures are usually lower on the weekends and on Mondays due to the lack of personnel working to handle the inflow of data.

With figures for the past 24 hours in hand, however, this brings the confirmed death toll to 449,068 and the number of cases to 16,083,258, figures that put Brazil in the top echelon of countries hardest hit by the health crisis.

The infection curve has been climbing in recent weeks and the daily average number of new cases over the past seven days stands at 65,111 after having fallen on April 26 to 56,533, but the current figure is still far below the record set on March 25 of 77,050.

In terms of the death rate, the ongoing increase, which had been slowing gradually, has now ceased diminishing and stands at an average of 1,902 per day over the past seven days, after the peak reached on April 13 of more than 3,000 deaths per day over the previous seven-day period.

Despite the worsening situation and the warnings from health experts about the arrival of a third Covid wave, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday headed a caravan of thousands of motorcyclists and moped riders in Rio de Janeiro.

The president, one of the world leaders who has been most vocal about denying the seriousness of the virus, appeared without a facemask and attracted large crowds in various spots around the city, despite the fact that such gatherings at present are prohibited.

Bolsonaro was accompanied by his former health minister, Gen. Eduardo Pazuello, who this week was questioned by the parliamentary commission investigating whether the objectively undeniable fact that the pandemic has spiraled out of control in Brazil has been a result of the government’s management of the crisis.

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