Study: 1.16 mn people may have had COVID-19 in Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo, Jun 23 (efe-epa).- Sao Paulo, South America’s most populous city, so far may have seen as many as 1.16 million of its residents infected with the coronavirus, 9.5 percent of its population, a figure 10 times the official caseload, the City Hall reported Tuesday after receiving a specially commissioned study on the matter.

“We come to the conclusion that there already exist in the city of Sao Paulo 1.16 people with the SARS-CoV-2 antibodies” – that is, the technical name of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19, Municipal Health Secretary Edson Aparecido said at a press conference.

The figures were obtained after 5,416 antibody tests were performed on people over age 18 selected at random from all 96 of the districts in the city of some 12 million.

The survey’s error margin is 1.7 percentage points, meaning that the infection rate could vary between 8-11.4 percent.

The aim of the investigation, launched on June 10 and which will be repeated every two weeks, is to try and determine how many people have already come in contact with the coronavirus – and have presumably developed at least some immunity to it – and thus be able to plan upcoming strategies to combat Covid-19.

According to Aparecido, the figures present “the real mortality scenario in the city,” which could be around 0.5 percent – or five deaths per 1,000 infected people – and they have “enormous importance” for the “establishment of the next steps of the health structure” to be used in battling the pandemic.

According to the latest official bulletin released by the City Hall, Sao Paulo currently has a confirmed caseload of 118,708, with 6,422 of those people having died from Covid-19.

In gross figures, the city of Sao Paulo is considered to be Brazil’s epicenter of the coronavirus. However, for the first time the cities in the interior of the same-named state have registered more total daily cases than the state capital, thus confirming that the pandemic is becoming “internalized.”

On Tuesday, Sao Paulo state – which has some 46 million residents – once again registered a record number of 434 daily Covid-19 deaths, a figure pushed upwards by the “ascending curve” now being observed in the interior cities.

“That number occurs basically because the interior of the state, in the great majority of regions, is on an ascending curve, a growth curve in terms of cases,” the coordinator of the pandemic Contingency Center, Joao Gabbardo, said at the press conference.

“Thus, including the reduction we’ve had in the capital and the metro region, the general (scenario) continues to be negative,” he added.

In all, 13,068 deaths and 229,475 confirmed cases have been registered in Sao Paulo state, the Brazilian region hardest hit by the pandemic, according to figures released on Tuesday by the government, which since June 1 has been reopening the region by phases.

Meanwhile, in Brazil’s second-hardest-hit city, Rio de Janeiro, the local City Hall estimated that the true number of infected people could be 80 times greater than the 50,922 cases listed in the official reports.

According to the latest figures from the Health Ministry, Brazil has confirmed 1.1 million coronavirus cases and 51,271 deaths, making it the country – in terms of its official figures – that has been hit hardest by the pandemic after the United States.


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