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Brazil records more than 4 000 deaths related to COVID-19 in 24 hours

Brazil records more than 4 000 deaths related to COVID-19 in 24 hours
Health care workers stand behind a coffin which represents dead colleagues during a protest against Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and his handling of COVID-19, March 25, 2021. (Reuters)

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Brazil has recorded more than 4 000 deaths related to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in 24 hours for the first time, as a more contagious variant fuels a surge in cases.

Hospitals are overcrowded, with people dying as they wait for treatment in some cities, and the health system is on the brink of collapse in many areas.

The country’s total death toll is now almost 337 000, second only to the United States.

But President Jair Bolsonaro continues to oppose any lockdown measures to curb the outbreak.

He argues that the damage to the economy would be worse than the effects of the virus itself, and has tried to revert some of the restrictions imposed by local authorities in the courts.

Speaking to supporters outside the presidential residence on Tuesday, he criticised quarantine measures claiming they were linked to obesity and depression and led to unemployment. He did not comment on the 4 195 deaths recorded in the past 24 hours.

To date, Brazil has recorded more than 13 million cases of coronavirus, according to the health ministry. Some 66,570 people died with Covid-19 in March, more than double the previous monthly record.


What is the situation in the country?


In most states, patients with COVID-19 are using more than 90 per cent of intensive care unit beds though numbers have been stable since the past week, according to the health institute Fiocruz (in Portuguese).

Several states have reported short supplies of oxygen and sedative. But despite the critical situation, some cities and states are already easing measures limiting the movement of people.

“The fact is the anti-lockdown narrative of President Jair Bolsonaro has won,” Miguel Lago, executive director of Brazil’s Institute for Health Policy Studies, which advises public health officials, told the Associated Press.

“Mayors and governors are politically prohibited from beefing up social distancing policies because they know supporters of the president, including business leaders, will sabotage it,” he said. (BBC)