Brazil Reports More Than 3,000 Covid Deaths for First Time

Brazil reported more than 3,000 Covid-19 deaths for the first time in a 24-hour period, as the pandemic spreads unchecked across Latin America’s biggest economy and overruns its health system.

The Health Ministry said that 3,251 people died Tuesday, bringing the total since the pandemic began to 298,676, the second most globally. Cases surged by 82,493, and 12.13 million people have now been infected.

A more contagious variant that originated in the Amazonian city of Manaus has spread rapidly nationwide since the New Year as part of a second wave that’s prompted neighbors to shut borders and experts to warn about the consequences of not controlling the outbreak.

Most of Brazil’s states have ICU occupancy rates above 80% with some at full capacity while the vaccine rollout has seen just 6% of the population receive a first dose. Large states like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro only closed restaurants and bars in the past few weeks, and governors are scrambling to prevent a total collapse of hospitals with beaches cordoned off and holidays brought forward to keep people home.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who has downplayed the severity of the pandemic and stressed the need to keep the economy open, said in a nationwide address Tuesday that life will be back to normal “very soon“ as the country is about to become self-sufficient in vaccine production.

“We will make 2021 a vaccination year for Brazilians,” Bolsonaro said, hours after he administered the oath of office to his fourth health minister in a year.

The president’s address was met with louder than usual pot-banging protests in many cities across the country. Shouting from their windows, some protesters called him murderer.

“To confront something of this magnitude you need to be absolutely focused on controlling the pandemic with an excellent nationwide coordination and that’s not happening,” said Amaury Lelis Dal Fabbro, a doctor of infectious diseases and professor at the University of Sao Paulo.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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