Health

Brazil’s confirmed coronavirus cases pass 1-million mark

Rio de Janeiro, Jun 19 (efe-epa).- Brazil’s confirmed coronavirus cases passed the 1-million threshold and the number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 edged closer to the 50,000 mark on Friday, according to the latest figures from a group of the country’s leading media outlets.

Citing data from regional health secretariats in Brazil’s 27 states, the consortium said the number of confirmed cases and deaths to date totaled 1,009,699 and 48,427, respectively, at 2 pm on Friday.

Brazil, which registered its first coronavirus case on Feb. 26, currently ranks second worldwide in both categories behind only the United States.

The figures also indicate that the virus continues to spread rapidly and that Brazil has not yet reached the peak of its infection curve, which experts predict will occur in July.

The media consortium’s figures are updated periodically, while the Health Ministry’s coronavirus data is released just once daily.

In its latest bulletin, the ministry put the number of confirmed coronavirus cases at 978,142 and the number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 at 47,748.

Confirmed cases, however, do not tell the whole story in Brazil or anywhere else due to the high number of asymptomatic carriers of the virus who have not yet been tested.

For example, the governor of New York state, Andrew Cuomo, said in April that based on a recent state-wide antibody study up to 2.7 million New Yorkers may have been infected at some time with the novel coronavirus.

At the time Cuomo gave that estimate, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the entire United States stood at about 826,000 (they now total nearly 2.3 million).

Despite the high case load in Brazil and even though more than 1,200 Covid-19 deaths per day were registered between Tuesday and Thursday, most state and municipal governments have gradually begun easing the social-distancing measures they imposed in mid-March in a bid to halt the spread of Covid-19 and have allowed retail outlets to reopen and factories to restart production.

Professional soccer also resumed in Rio de Janeiro state on Thursday, albeit with no fans in attendance.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been one of the world leaders most skeptical about the seriousness of Covid-19.

The right-wing head of state has referred to the coronavirus as a “little flu,” criticized state governors’ stay-at-home measures and insisted that the country must normalize all activities to avoid a further deepening of an economic crisis that, in his opinion, could lead to more deaths than Covid-19 itself.

Brazil’s Central Bank said Thursday that the country’s economic activity contracted by a whopping 9.73 percent in April relative to March as a result of the pandemic-triggered lockdowns.

That marked the biggest monthly drop in the Index of Economic Activity (IBC-Br) – used as a preview of the gross domestic product (GDP) number – in its 17-year history. EFE-EPA

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