COVID-19 contagion picks up in Brazil amid de-escalation

São Paulo, Jul 23 (efe-epa).- Although Brazilian authorities insist its COVID-19 curve has stabilized, case numbers continue to rise and about 1,000 people are dying every day from the infectious disease as the country continues its de-escalation of restrictions.

After registering a record high of new infections the previous day (67,860), Brazil recorded 59,961 cases on Thursday and 1,311 deaths from COVID-19 in the country, the second hardest hit by the pandemic after the United States.

Thus, the total number of infections registered reached 2,287,475, while the number of deaths reached 84,082, with an average of 1,000 deaths per day since the end of May, reflecting the country’s stagnation at the highest point of the pandemic curve.

A few days ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that new coronavirus infections had reached their apex and suggested they would not increase exponentially.

However, Brazil had the second highest number of daily cases registered in a single day on Thursday since the start of the pandemic.

The epidemic appears to have stabilized in some southeastern regions, such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and parts of the north and northeast, where the virus hit hard in the first months of the crisis.

But the virus is now spreading in the central-western regions, where the capital Brasilia is located, and in the south, as the southern winter takes hold.

On a visit to Curitiba, the capital of the southern state of Paraná where cases multiplied in recent weeks, acting Minister of Health Gen. Eduardo Pazuello stressed that the arrival of winter is the “most critical moment” for respiratory diseases.

“At this time, contagion increases… The curve tends to grow, because at this moment we have winter in the south. Influenza increases and so does COVID-19,” he said at a press conference.

Pazuello, who has been in office on an interim basis for two months, said that “one thing is the increasing contagion curve and another is the death curve,” a fight, which according to the minister belongs to the country’s authorities.

“What response, what actions are we going to take to prevent deaths from taking place. It is the authorities’ responsibility that the death curve does not meet the contagion curve,” he said.

Pazuello stressed that in order to avoid deaths, early care is required in the Basic Health Units and adequate clinical treatment based on existing drugs to combat COVID-19, among which he avoided making references to chloroquine, an antimalarial drug that Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has been using to deal with his infection.

Despite Bolsonaro supporting this drug, a study published Thursday in the scientific New England Journal of Medicine found no evidence of its efficacy in patients with mild and moderate cases of COVID-19.

The research conducted by a coalition of 55 medical centers with more than 660 patients, found that a hydroxychloroquine-based treatment is not only not effective against the disease but also increases the risk of cardiac arrhythmia and other collateral harm.

Bolsonaro, however, has attributed the improvement in his health to a chloroquine-based treatment and defended the drug again on Thursday in a live broadcast on his social networks.

“I am not recommending it, but I had it and I am feeling very good until today,” he said.

“There are those who criticize it. But there is still no scientific proof. It is not recommended, but each patient can decide,” he said.

In the morning, the president took a motorcycle ride through the inner roads of Alvorada Palace, sparking controversy as he stopped to talk to cleaning staff, for which he took off his helmet and showed himself without a mask, despite being infected.

In the late afternoon, he again approached the gardens of his official residence for the daily ritual in which the national flag is lowered and spoke again with some followers, separated by a small water channel.

Between jokes, Bolsonaro declared that “whoever lives in society, sooner or later will catch” COVID-19, something he has repeated since the beginning of the epidemic. EFE-EPA

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