Brazil Hits Record for Covid Deaths as Hospitals Near Collapse

Brazil reported a record daily number of Covid-19 deaths as a resurgence of the virus fills up hospital beds and pushes local governments to call for more drastic measures to contain contagion.

The Health Ministry reported 1,641 people died from the disease in the last 24 hours. Brazil is among the hardest-hit countries globally, with 10,646,926 confirmed cases and 257,361 deaths from Covid-19.

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. About 20 states have more than 80% of ICU beds filled, leading the National Council of Health Secretaries to call for tough measures including a national curfew and closure of airports to avoid a collapse of public and private healthcare systems networks.

A slow roll-out of vaccines -- Brazil was late to kick off its immunization campaign, and had only 6 million doses at hand when it did -- and a variant that researchers say appears more contagious has added to concern. On Tuesday, newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo reported on preliminary studies that showed the so-called Manaus strain seems to be as much as 2.2 times more transmissible, and carry a viral load 10 times higher.

On Tuesday, Vice President Hamilton Mourao spoke against a national lockdown, saying Brazil should speed up its vaccination program. Data from local governments show the country, home to 210 million people, has deployed 9,157,708 shots so far.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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