Brazil Has Record Covid Deaths as Richest State Tightens Rules

Brazil reported record deaths from the coronavirus for a second straight day as the country’s richest state tightens rules to contain the spread.

Deaths rose by 1,910 in last 24 hours, the Health Ministry said, pushing the total to 259,271. Confirmed cases increased by 71,704, to 10,718,630.

Sao Paulo state Governor Joao Doria announced Wednesday that all non-essential businesses, such as shops and gyms, will have to remain shut for the next two weeks.

The restrictions, which go into effect Saturday, come after the state -- where the virus first arrived more than a year ago -- has more than 75% of its ICU beds occupied. It’s the second time in less than a week that the state tightens rules.

“We are about to collapse in Sao Paulo and in Brazil,” Doria told reporters.

Patients are staying longer in hospitals, pushing the health system to the brink, said Joao Gabbardo, executive coordinator of the state’s Covid-19 contingency center. Sao Paulo also announced it will open more hospital beds, but decided not to suspend in-person classes at schools.

States from Rio Grande do Sul to Pernambuco had already increased restrictions on movement to contain the spread of the virus. Brasilia, the nation’s capital, entered a lockdown over the weekend, and Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes is also expected to tighten restrictive measures, O Globo newspaper reported.

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While the virus recedes in most of the world, Brazil is battling a spike in infections, which has been made worse by carnival and year-end gatherings. Slow vaccinations and a variant that researchers say appears more contagious have added to concern.

Brazil’s government inked a deal to acquire 100 million doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, Veja magazine said without citing how it obtained the information. If confirmed, it would be the third booster in the nation’s immunization plan, which for now has deployed shots from Sinovac Biotech Ltd and AstraZeneca Plc.

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