Brazil’s coronavirus outbreak set daily records on Wednesday with both 69 074 new confirmed cases and 1 595 related deaths, as the world’s second-worst outbreak accelerates toward the milestone of 100 000 lives cut short.
Brazil is the country worst hit by COVID-19 outside of the United States in both death toll and case count, with more than 2.5 million confirmed cases and 90 134 deaths since the pandemic began, according to ministry data.
Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous and hardest-hit state, has been working through a backlog of previously unregistered cases, reporting more than 26 000 cases on Wednesday alone.
President Jair Bolsonaro has pressed to reopen the Brazilian economy, with lockdowns lifting in many cities despite the toll of the disease continuing to rise.
In some cases, Brazilians have packed into bars and crowded public squares, often in defiance of local rules.
Bolsonaro himself has flouted social distancing guidelines by joining supporters at rallies around Brasilia, the capital,in recent months. He fell ill with coronavirus this month, and spent weeks in partial isolation before recovering.
The right-wing populist has argued that the economic damage from lockdowns is worse than the disease itself, which he has played down as “a little flu” that can be cured by unproven treatments, involving the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine.