Saturday, 26 September 2020

Latin America Fatalities on the Rise as Global COVID-19 Death Toll Nears 400,000

Latin America, specifically Brazil and Mexico, is seeing increases in the number of coronavirus-related cases and deaths, as the global death toll nears 400,000.

Funeral workers wearing protective gear as a precaution amid the new coronavirus pandemic push the remains of a COVID-19 victim into a funeral car at a field hospital in Leblon, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, June 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Globally, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases is more than 6.9 million, while the death toll stood at 399,854 Sunday morning, Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Research Center reported.

The United States is the world’s hardest-hit nation, with more than 109,800 deaths and more than 1.9 million confirmed cases.

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While the U.S. has suffered the largest number of COVID-19-related deaths and confirmed cases, on a per capita basis, several European countries, such as Italy, France and Spain, have a higher death toll.

But Latin America has seen an increase in the number of cases and deaths, with the region tallying nearly 1.2 million confirmed cases and more than 60,000 death. Tolls are also rising sharply in Mexico, Peru and Ecuador, while in Chile deaths have risen by more than 50 percent in the past week.

Brazil has the second-highest number of confirmed cases worldwide, with 672,846, and it ranks third in deaths, with 35,930, Johns Hopkins reported Sunday. Mexico ranks 14th in the number of cases worldwide, with 113,619, but is seventh overall in the number of COVID-19-related deaths, with 13,511, the university reported.

People wearing face masks walk past a sign advertising a restaurant in Mexico City, Friday, June 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

On Saturday, Brazil’s Health Ministry removed months of coronavirus data from public view. The ministry also stopped giving a total count of confirmed cases and the death toll. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro defended the move, saying on Twitter: “The cumulative data … does not reflect the moment the country is in. Other actions are underway to improve the reporting of cases and confirmation of diagnoses.”

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Last week, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a virtual news conference “we are especially worried about Central and South America, where many countries are witnessing accelerating epidemics.”

On Friday, Bolsonaro threatened to pull out of the WHO over “ideological bias,” arguing the lockdowns caused by the coronavirus are worse than the disease itself.

A week ago, U.S. President Donald Trump announced he was ending funding and membership in the WHO, after criticizing the agency and accusing it of helping China in a cover-up of the coronavirus pandemic. The virus first appeared in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

In Europe, which suffered great losses earlier in the pandemic, countries are slowly reopening. Some countries in the European Union have opened borders to other European visitors. But on Saturday, the European Union said it hopes to open all borders to travelers by early July, at the start of the summer travel season.

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