In the tortuous course of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been at least one constant: Latin America’s most populous nation has not handled it well. Brazil lags behind only the United States in coronavirus-related deaths and infections. But the latter is starting to battle its way out of the pandemic; in Brazil, the outbreak is now worse than it has ever been.
The country on Tuesday reported close to 3,000 deaths, a spike that accelerated this month. In the past week, Brazil posted a record of 12,888 new deaths and more than 467,944 new cases, according to Johns Hopkins University figures. Experts warn that Brazil’s hospital system is on the brink of collapse, with occupancy peaking near or even pushing past capacity in over half the states of the country. Rather than going up, the daily numbers of administered coronavirus tests — key to tracking and stopping a surge in cases — have declined dramatically since December.
Part of the problem is the emergence of a more virulent coronavirus variant in Brazil, one whose rapid spread since January has raised global alarm. “If Brazil is not serious, then it will continue to affect all of the neighborhood there — and beyond,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, warned earlier this month. “This is not just about Brazil. It’s about the whole Latin America, and even beyond.”
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