This file photo taken on June 2, 2020 shows an aerial view showing a coffin being taken to its grave at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in the neighbourhood of Taruma, in Manaus, Brazil, during the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic. Brazilian health workers urged the International Criminal Court on July 27, 2020 to investigate President Jair Bolsonaro's government for crimes against humanity over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. A dossier of evidence was handed to the Hague-based court by a group of unions that claim to represent more than one million healthcare staff in Brazil, which has the world's highest virus death count after the United States.
AFP/Michael Dantas
Brazil's COVID-19 death toll surpasses 90,000
(Agence France-Presse) - July 30, 2020 - 7:56am

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Brazil registered record daily numbers of infections and deaths from the new coronavirus Wednesday, sending its overall death toll surging past 90,000 people.

The country, which has been hit harder than any except the United States in the pandemic, recorded 69,074 new cases and 1,595 new deaths in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said.

That brought the figures to a total of more than 2.5 million cases and 90,134 people killed since the start of the pandemic.

Experts say under-testing in the country of 212 million people means the real numbers are probably much higher.

Technical issues likely contributed to the high daily figures.

The health ministry had said Tuesday that problems with its online reporting system had delayed figures from Sao Paulo, Brazil's most populous state and the one with the most cases and deaths.

Leaving lockdown too soon?

Still, the numbers paint a bleak picture of how the country is faring against the virus.

It has regularly recorded more than 1,000 deaths a day since early July, and more than 30,000 new cases a day since mid-June.

A health ministry official put the prolonged high numbers of cases and deaths down to increased testing.

"The testing program in Brazil has expanded a lot in recent weeks. That's an extremely important point," Arnaldo Medeiros, secretary for health vigilance, told a news conference.

President Jair Bolsonaro faces criticism for his handling of the pandemic.

The far-right leader has dismissed the virus as a "little flu" and attacked lockdown measures by state and local authorities to contain it, arguing the economic fallout could be worse than the disease.

Even after contracting the virus himself earlier this month, forcing him to work from quarantine at the presidential palace for more than two weeks, Bolsonaro has continued to downplay the severity of the pandemic.

Rather than lockdowns, Bolsonaro is pushing the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as the way to fight the virus.

Like US President Donald Trump, whom he admires, Bolsonaro touts the drug as a remedy for the virus, despite a slate of scientific studies finding it has no effect against COVID-19 and can cause serious side effects.

After testing positive for the virus, the Brazilian leader took hydroxychloroquine himself, regularly showing off his box of pills.

Bolsonaro is currently on his third health minister of the pandemic, an active-duty army general with no prior medical experience.

The interim minister's two predecessors, both doctors, left after clashing with Bolsonaro, including over his insistence the health ministry recommend hydroxychloroquine against COVID-19.

Meanwhile, most states have begun relaxing their stay-at-home measures, encouraged by the fact the number of infections finally appears to have reached a plateau.

But Brazil's infection curve has flattened at a very high level of daily cases, and experts warn it is still too soon to exit lockdowns in many places.

BRAZIL NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: August 7, 2020 - 4:07pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

August 7, 2020 - 4:07pm

The Department of Health announces 3,379 new cases of the coronavirus disease, bringing the national caseload to 122,754 in the Philippines.

There are 96 new recoveries and 24 new deaths.

August 7, 2020 - 12:30pm

The health ministry data show India's coronavirus cases passed two million after a daily jump of more than 60,000 and around 900 new deaths,

India has now recorded 2.03 million infections and 41,585 deaths, according to the ministry's website. Many experts doubt the official figures, however, and say the true numbers may be much higher. — AFP

August 7, 2020 - 7:49am

The number of coronavirus cases recorded worldwide has passed 19 million, according to an AFP tally from official sources at 2300 GMT Thursday.

At least 19,000,553 cases and 712,315 deaths have now been registered.

Forty percent of cases were in the United States and Brazil, the two worst-affected countries with 4,870,367 cases (159,864 deaths) and 2,912,212 infections (98,493 deaths) respectively. — AFP

August 7, 2020 - 7:40am

The number of COVID-19 cases in Africa has risen to over one million, with more than half registered in South Africa, according to an AFP count late Thursday.

The continent's worst-hit nation has registered 538,184 infections, including over 8,000 new cases on Thursday, and 9,604 deaths.

Egypt has recorded around 95,000 COVID-19 cases while the figure in Nigeria is 45,000.

South Africa's infection figures are the fifth-highest after the US, Brazil, India and Russia. — AFP

August 6, 2020 - 8:49pm

Germany will introduce mandatory coronavirus tests for travellers returning from designated risk zones from Saturday, the country's health minister said.

Having announced the measure last week, minister Jens Spahn said it would take effect from this weekend, as fears grow over rising case numbers blamed on summer holidays and local outbreaks.

"It is already the case that travellers from risk zones are obliged to either go into a two-week quarantine or provide an up-to-date negative test result," he said at a press conference Thursday.

From Saturday, "travelers entering Germany will have to bring a test result with them or be tested on arrival", he added, confirming once again that the tests would be paid for by the government. — AFP

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