Brazil surpassed 30,000 deaths from the coronavirus outbreak on Tuesday, as the disease continued to rip through the worst-hit country in South America.
Figures released by the Department of Health showed a new record of 1,262 deaths in the past 24 hours, as well as 28,936 new infections.
The numbers are due to the fact that, despite warnings from the WHO and epidemiologists, some Brazilian states have started coming out of weeks of economically stifling quarantine measures.
The total number of confirmed cases – 555,383 – makes Brazil the second most affected country after the United States.
COVID-19’s official death toll of 31,199 released Tuesday is the fourth-highest in the world after the US, UK and Italy.
Experts estimate that the actual number of infections could be up to 15 times higher than official figures, given the relatively small tests in the vast country of 210 million.
An anti-government demonstrator takes part in a protest called ‘Amazonas for Democracy’ on June 2, 2020 against the country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, and his approach to addressing the coronavirus crisis, which has since caused more than 30,000 deaths in the country . The demonstrator’s sign reads 30,000 deaths. “And then?”‘
The new record comes when some Brazilian leaders, including right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, continue to belittle the virus and warn that the economic consequences of quarantine measures will be worse than the virus itself.
“We regret all the deaths, but it is everyone’s fate,” Bolsonaro said in front of the presidential residence in Brasilia earlier Tuesday.
Even in states and cities where leaders previously placed lockdown orders, authorities have eased restrictions quickly in recent days, despite the number of new cases per day continuing to grow in most regions.
The state of Sao Paulo recorded its highest daily figures for both deaths and infections on Tuesday, when cities across the state began to reopen shopping centers and offices.
Sao Paulo now has a total of nearly 120,000 cases with nearly 8,000 deaths.
In Sao Paulo itself, Mayor Bruno Covas has reset the reopening of non-essential companies until after June 15.
The other hardest hit state, Rio de Janeiro, also started to come out of quarantine measures on Tuesday with beaches and businesses being reopened.
“In the current situation, by easing the measures, gasoline is added to the fire,” Rafael Galliez, an infection expert at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, told AFP.
The World Health Organization regional office warned Brazil Tuesday about reopening “too soon because there is a risk of a revival of COVID-19.”
The Ministry of Health said there was “no way to specify when the peak of deaths will occur” due to the size and geographical diversity of the country.
Pictured: Rescuers are taking an elderly patient to an ambulance amid the coronavirus outbreak in Manacapuru, Amazonas, June 2, 2020. Brazil has recorded 555,383 cases of coronavirus and ranks second only in the US. Experts estimate that the figure could be 15 times higher than the official number
Brazil’s right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, pictured on June 2, 2020 in Brasilia, is leaving Palacio do Alvorada, the headquarters of the presidency. Bolsonaro has been heavily criticized for his attitude to the coronavirus crisis
The Brazilian health crisis has melted into a political one, as far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has clashed openly with local authorities pushing for closure measures.
Brazil, meanwhile, has gone through protests. On Monday, Bolsonaro urged his supporters to postpone their protests against the country’s Supreme Court next weekend after opposing demonstrations led to violent clashes on Sunday.
Bolsonaro’s critics say he has undermined democracy by approving nearly weekly protests against the highest court, which allowed an investigation into the president for alleged interference with police appointments for personal motives.
The judge who led the probe compared Bolsonaro’s approach to Hitler’s Germany.
Pictured: Police clash with protesters against government in Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 31, 2020. Police used tear gas to disperse protesters against government in Brazil’s largest city when they clashed with small groups loyal to President Bolsonaro
The ‘Amazonas for Democracy’ march, which passed through Manaus on June 2, 2020, was a demonstration against fascism and Bolsonaro. The banner on the front of the march calls on Bolsonaro to leave the office, where ‘Fora’ means ‘Off’
Activists clashed with the police over the weekend as they marched in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, which itself sees protests across the country.
Some activists in Brazil protested police brutality in the country, whose capital city Rio saw a record number of police killings in 2019 – 1,814 – and whose political leadership said it would ‘dig dig’ to stop the crime.
Anti-fascist protesters in the northwestern region of Amazonas also took to the streets of Menaus in a demonstration against Bolsonaro.
The group, calling itself “Amazonas for Democracy,” held up signs to expel the president from the government, with a coffin-shaped sign that reads “30,000 deaths,” “then what?” ‘