Brazil’s confirmed coronavirus case count has passed 1 million, with 48,954 deaths, according to data released by the country’s Health Ministry.
Brazil is the second worst-hit country in the world, after the US, in both cases and deaths.
Brazil confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus on Feb. 26. The virus has spread relentlessly across the continent-sized country, eroding support for right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro and raising fears of economic collapse after years of anemic growth.
On Friday, June 19, Brazil reported 1,032,913 confirmed cases, with 1,206 new deaths to take total official fatalities to 48,954. Friday also saw a new record daily number of cases, with 54,771, suggesting the outbreak is far from over. Brazil is likely to surpass 50,000 deaths on Saturday, although weekend reporting can be lower.
Even so, the true extent of the outbreak far exceeds the official figures, according to many experts, who cite a lack of widespread testing.
“That number of 1 million is much less than the real number of people who have been infected because there is under-reporting of a magnitude of five to 10 times,” said Alexandre Naime Barbosa, a medical professor at the São Paulo State University. “The true number is probably at least 3 million and could even be as high as 10 million people.”
COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, arrived in Brazil via wealthy tourists returning from Europe to major southeastern cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and has spread deep into the interior, reaching 82% of Brazil’s municipalities, Health Ministry data showed.
Bolsonaro, sometimes called the “Tropical Trump,” has been widely criticized for his handling of the crisis. The country still has had no permanent health minister after losing two since April, following clashes with the president.
Bolsonaro has shunned social distancing, calling it a job-killing measure more dangerous than the virus itself. He has also promoted two anti-malarial drugs as remedies, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, despite little evidence they work.
Latin America has registered 90,439 deaths, according to a Reuters tally, with nearly 2 million cases.