17, May 2020
Brazil’s COVID-19 death toll passed 15,000 on Saturday, official data showed, while its number of infections topped 230,000, making it the country with the fourth-highest number of cases in the world.
With 15,633 deaths and 233,142 confirmed cases, Brazil – whose president Jair Bolsonaro has dismissed the disease as a “little flu” – is at the epicenter of infections in Latin America.
Experts say under-testing means the real figures could be 15 times higher or more, and warn the worst is yet to come.
The sprawling South American country registered 816 deaths and 14,919 new cases in the past 24 hours. Brazil’s outbreak is now the fourth largest in the world, according to official figures.
Despite the rising tolls, Bolsonaro on Saturday attacked lockdown measures taken by some governors to contain the spread of the virus.
“Unemployment, hunger and misery will be the future of those who support the tyranny of total isolation,” the far-right president tweeted, a day after Health Minister Nelson Teich resigned after less than a month on the job.
Brazil’s vice president, Hamilton Mourao, underwent a COVID-19 test and was placed in isolation at his official residence on Saturday, after a public servant who had been near him last week tested positive.
Mourao, 66, will not fulfill official duties on Monday, when the results are expected. Bolsonaro has undergone several coronavirus tests after ministers and other close aides tested positive.
Nationwide testing in Brazil still lags far behind European nations. Brazil had processed nearly 338,000 novel coronavirus tests in official labs by the beginning of the week, according to the Health Ministry. Another 145,000 tests were under analysis or waiting in line.
The pandemic has already claimed almost 310,000 lives worldwide.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)