RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil lost another 538 lives to coronavirus in the last 24 hours, according to official figures released on Saturday, bringing total fatalities from the pandemic in Latin America’s largest nation to 100,240.
The latest bulletin from the council representing the 27 states’ health departments shows the number of confirmed cases increased by 21,732 overnight to nearly 3 million.
Only the United States, with 4.97 million infections and 161,906 deaths among a population of 330 million, has been hit harder by the coronavirus than Brazil, home to 210 million people.
The Brazilian Health Ministry reported the country’s first case on Feb. 26 and the first death on March 17, 20 days later. By the middle of May, the average daily death toll was above 1,000.
Brazil’s mortality rate from the disease is 47.4 for every 100,000 inhabitants, the fifth-highest globally behind the United Kingdom, Peru, Chile and the US.
The most populous Brazilian state, Sao Paulo, accounts for than 600,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and close to 25,000 deaths. The regional government announced on Friday that it was postponing the re-opening of schools by an additional month to Oct. 7.
More than 2 million, or almost 70 percent, of Brazilians who contracted coronavirus have recovered, the health ministry says.
Five states – Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Norte – are seeing an acceleration in cases and deaths, while contagion has stabilized in nine others.
Statistics indicate that the pandemic has peaked in the rest of Brazil’s states.
In Rio de Janeiro, visitors to world-famous Copacabana beach were greeted on Saturday by the sight of 100 black crosses and 1,000 red balloons meant to honor the Brazilians who have perished from COVID-19 and to protest President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the public health emergency.
Alongside the crosses, placed by members of the NGO Rio de Paz, stood a large sign with the phrase “100 Thousand: Why are we the second country in numbers of deaths?”
The far-right president, who more than once dismissed COVID-19 as a “measly flu” and a hoax, fired two health ministers in the space of a month after clashing with them on the approach to the crisis and criticized mayors and state governors for imposing lockdowns to contain the virus.
“Whoever thinks that this is ‘fake news,’ that it’s a political thing, us mistaken,” Rio taxi driver Marcio Antonio do Nascimento Silva told EFE on the beach on Saturday. “This here is Hugo, my 25-year-old son. He wasn’t a politician. He was a citizen, he was a person who died of COVID-19.”
The crosses were erected in front of the historic Copacabana Palace, considered one of the architectural treasures of Rio de Janeiro.