Figures undercut Brazil’s claim of progress against Covid-19

Sao Paulo, Jul 23 (efe-epa).- Brazilian authorities say they have flattened the curve of Covid-19 infections, but figures released Thursday by the health ministry show the second-largest increase in cases in a single day since the virus appeared in this Latin American nation of 210 million.

The number of people testing positive for coronavirus climbed by 59,961 to reach 2.28 million, while the death toll increased by 1,311 to surpass 84,000.

The latest figure represents some improvement from Wednesday, when the health ministry reported 67,780 new infections over the previous 24 hours.

Brazil trails only the United States in both cases and fatalities.

More than 1.57 million Brazilians have recovered from Covid-19, according to the health ministry, which calculates the mortality rate from the illness at roughly 40 per every 100,000 people.

A few days ago, the World Health Organization said that the pandemic appeared to have reached its apogee in Brazil, with an end to the stretch of exponential growth in contagion.

Yet even Brazilian officials have expressed concern that infections may surge as the Southern Hemisphere winter takes hold in the temperate regions of the country.

During a visit to Curitiba, capital of the southern state of Parana, where cases have multiplied in recent weeks, interim Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello called the onset of winter “the most critical moment for serious acute respiratory syndromes.”

Despite the worrisome numbers, the gradual re-opening of the economy continues across Brazil with encouragement from President Jair Bolsonaro, himself infected with Covid-19.

The right-wing leader tested positive July 7 and a second test done this week found that he still has the virus.

Since being diagnosed, Bolsonaro has isolated himself inside the presidential palace, conducting official business via teleconference.

Though he claims to be observing quarantine, the president remains nonchalant about the threat posed by the pandemic.

Thursday morning, Bolsonaro rode a motorcycle inside the palace grounds in Brasilia, stopping at one point to chat with maintenance workers. When he took off his helmet, it was apparent that he wasn’t wearing a mask.

At dusk, the president came outside to the palace gardens to watch the daily flag-lowering ceremony.

He took the opportunity to talk with supporters, separated from the grounds by a narrow stream, cracking jokes and reaffirming his conviction that “sooner or later, everyone will catch” Covid-19.



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