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Brazil records more than 4,000 Covid deaths in 24 hours

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The country’s total death toll is rapidly approaching 340,000 (Picture: Getty/EPA/AP)

Brazil has recorded more than 4,000 coronavirus-related deaths in 24 hours for the first time – becoming only the third nation to hit the grim milestone.

The country’s death toll is rapidly approaching 340,000, second to the United States, and only the US and Peru have reported a higher daily tally than the 4,195 fatalities registered on Tuesday.

Some experts say the total number could eventually surpass the States, where more than 550,000 people have died but a widespread vaccine drive is quickly turning the tide on what was once the world’s deadliest outbreak.

Miguel Nicolelis, a Brazilian doctor and professor at Duke University, who is closely tracking the virus, said of the situation: ‘It’s a nuclear reactor that has set off a chain reaction and is out of control. It’s a biological Fukushima.’

Brazil’s health ministry has recorded more than 13 million cases. Last month some 66,570 people died from the virus – more than double the amount registered the previous month.

Dr Nicolelis told the BBC the country ‘is a threat to the entire effort of the international community to control the pandemic’ adding: ‘If Brazil is not under control, then the planet is not going to be safe, because we are brewing new variants every week… and they are going to cross borders.’

Despite hospitals becoming overcrowded and the health system on the brink of collapse in some regions, politicians are pushing forward with plans to ease restrictions and reopen the economy.

Covid-19 patients at a field hospital set up at a sports gym in Santo Andre, Sao Paulo (Picture: AFP)
Cemetery workers lower the coffin of a coronavirus victim into his grave at the Vila Formosa cemetery (Picture: AP)

President Jair Bolsonaro, who has long downplayed the risks of Covid-19, continues to oppose lockdowns, arguing that the damage to the economy would be worse than the effects of the virus.

He often appears in public without a mask and has expressed skepticism of vaccines. Experts say the lack of aggressive government measures to contain the virus is contributing to the surge in cases.

Miguel Lago, executive director of Brazil’s Institute for Health Policy Studies, which advises public health officials, said reopening is a mistake that he fears will bring even higher death numbers, though he thinks it unlikely to be reversed.

He said: ‘The fact is the anti-lockdown narrative of President Jair Bolsonaro has won.

‘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.’

Burials of victims in the Cemiterio do Caju (Picture|: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Brazil registered more than 4,000 Covid-19 deaths in 24 hours for the first time Tuesday (Picture: AFP via Getty)
A surge of infections has made it the current epicenter of the pandemic (Picture: AFP via Getty)

Dr Nicolelis and Christovam Barcellos, a researcher at Brazilian medical institute Fiocruz, are separately predicting that Brazil could surpass the United States in both overall deaths and the record for average deaths per day.

It could surpass the record US seven-day average as early as next week, Washington University’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has forecast. That was 3,285 set in January.

The IHME estimate does not currently extend beyond July 1, when it projects Brazil could reach 563,000 deaths compared with 609,000 expected in the US by then.

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