Coronavirus Brazil: Up to 1 million could be infected already, warn scientists

A pro-Bolsonaro protester with a Brazil flag and a gas mask, Brasilia, April 27. (Reuters)

Brazil is emerging as potentially the next big hot spot for the coronavirus amid President Jair Bolsonaro’s insistence that it is just a “little flu” and that there is no need for the sharp restrictions that have slowed the infection’s spread in Europe and the US.

As some US states and European countries moved gradually Monday to ease their limits on movement and commerce, the intensifying outbreak in Brazil – Latin America’s biggest country, with 211 million people – pushed some hospitals to the breaking point, with signs that a growing number of victims are now dying at home.

“We have all the conditions here for the pandemic to become much more serious,” said Paulo Brandão, a virologist at the University of Sao Paulo.

For more coronavirus news, visit our dedicated page.

Brazil officially reported about 4,500 deaths and almost 67,000 confirmed infections. But the true numbers there, as in many other countries, are believed to be vastly higher given the lack of testing and the many people without severe symptoms who haven’t sought hospital care.

Some scientists said over 1 million in Brazil are probably infected. The country is heading into winter, which can worsen respiratory illnesses.

President Bolsonaro downplays virus despite rise

Bolsonaro has disputed the seriousness of the coronavirus and said people need to resume their lives to prevent an economic meltdown. But most state governors in the country have adopted restrictions to slow the spread and pushed people to stay at home.

In mid-April, Bolsonaro fired his popular health minister after a series of disagreements over efforts to contain the virus, replacing him with an advocate for reopening the economy. Residents protested, leaning out their windows to bang pots and pans.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro smiles at a media statement announcing economic measures during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Brasilia, Brazil, March 27, 2020. (Reuters)

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro smiles at a media statement announcing economic measures during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Brasilia, Brazil, March 27, 2020. (Reuters)

Medical officials in Rio de Janeiro and at least four other major cities have warned that their hospital systems are on the verge of collapse or too overwhelmed to take any more patients.

Officials in Sao Paulo – the largest city in South America, a tightly packed metropolitan area of over 21 million residents, many living in poverty – have issued death certificates over the past two weeks for 236 people who succumbed at home, double the number before the outbreak, according to the SAMU paramedic service.

Manaus, an Amazon city of 1.8 million, recorded 142 deaths on Sunday, the most yet, including 41 who died at home. In the main cemetery, workers have been digging mass graves. Brazil’s funeral industry warned last week that the city was running out of coffins and “there could soon be corpses left on corners.”

Read more:

Coronavirus: 15 countries left in the world that allegedly have no cases

Hundreds of inmates escape from Brazil’s prisons amid coronavirus outbreak

Residents treated to open-air cinema during coronavirus lockdown in Brazil

SHOW MORE
Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:58 - GMT 06:58
Top