Brazil has become the second country in the world to have confirmed more than a million cases of Covid-19, as the disease continues to spread.
The Ministry of Health has also published a record number of new cases in the last 24 hours – over 54,000.
In addition, for the fourth day in a row, there were more than 1,200 deaths, bringing their total to nearly 49,000.
The lack of testing suggests that the true numbers are higher, and experts say the outbreak is at a distance of weeks from its peak.
A new figure was revealed hours after the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the pandemic was entering a “new and dangerous” phase, and its director general, Tedros Adhan Gebreusus, warned that cases were growing at the same time as people get tired of blocking and governments are trying to restart their economy.
Latin America is one of the areas where there is a surge in infections. Major outbreaks occur in a number of countries, including Chile and Peru, while Mexico became the seventh country to officially exceed 20,000 deaths from viruses on Friday.
But only the United States witnessed more infections than Brazil, where far-right president Jer Bolsonaro was criticized for his reaction to the crisis. He repeatedly encountered state governors and mayors who imposed severe restrictions to curb the spread of the virus by closing large cities.
Mr. Bolsonaro argues that the economic effect of these measures will be much greater than the virus itself, and this position is shared by many. But his general approach to the crisis led to the resignation of two doctors as Minister of Health.
Virus out of control
Jair Bolsonaro has long admired Donald Trump and his politics. These two people have a lot in common – not least the way they dealt with the pandemic in their countries. The numbers in the US are staggering, but Brazil is also scary. Now they are exclusive members of a club that no one wants to join.
Such a sharp jump in numbers – even if there were inaccurate reports this week before – shows how the uncontrolled virus is still here. This is at a time when big cities are opening up and people are returning to work.
For a long time, there was a confrontation between President Bolsonaro and state governors – he was dissatisfied with the introduction of strict quarantine measures, which, he said, could harm the economy.
But three months ahead, and the pressure from above seemed to have decreased. With millions of people who struggle and do not work, there is a desire to return to some kind of normality. But this seems like a dangerous plan – Brazil has not yet reached its peak.
What is the situation in Brazil?
Since there was no national blockade, states and cities took their own measures. After several months of restrictions, some of them are gradually being canceled, although the level of infection remains high.
Concerns remain that the health system will not be able to cope in some places and that the disease is spreading faster in destitute neighborhoods and remote areas, such as indigenous communities, where access to adequate care is difficult.
At the same time, the desire to restart the economy is widespread, as analysts predict a reduction from 6% to 8% this year, and millions of jobs will be lost. The government has introduced temporary payments to help people affected by the pandemic, but it is expected that a large number of people will be in poverty.
The Brazilian Ministry of Health confirmed a total of 1,032,913 cases on Friday. It says that a significant surge in the number of infections was caused, in particular, by the fact that several states had problems reporting on Thursday.
According to Johns Hopkins University, which tracks the disease worldwide, the United States has the highest number of cases in the world – more than 2.2 million people and nearly 119,000 deaths.
How does President Bolsonaro deal with the crisis?
Coronavirus has become a very political issue in Brazil. Experts say the president’s refusal to follow scientific advice, including those established by WHO, such as social distance, is partly responsible for the severity of the crisis.
In the beginning, Mr. Bolsonaro repeatedly stated that the risk associated with this virus was exaggerated and even joined some anti-blocking rallies organized by his supporters, which undermined the message of his own Ministry of Health against the crowd.
Mr. Bolsonaro accused the state governors of using this issue for political gain, as many who took more stringent measures oppose his government. João Doria, Governor of the richest state in Brazil, São Paulo and an ally who became a rival, previously described the president’s views on the fight against this disease as “Bolsonarovirus”.
The president also strongly supported the use of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of patients, which, according to WHO, does not reduce mortality. After the two ministers of health left, the response of the government now is an army general who has no experience in public health.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bolsonaro and his allies opposed the media, arguing that excessive attention was paid to the number of victims. Ministry of Health Deletes Virus Data from Government Website earlier this month, but was forced to reverse the decision after an order from the Supreme Court and charges of trying to manipulate numbers.
Amid a pandemic, Mr. Bolsonaro is facing a growing political crisisHe is under investigation on charges of attempting to intervene in the police for political reasons, which he denies, while the Supreme Court is conducting two separate investigations into his allies.