Brazil reports biggest spike in deaths; soon to be world's No. 2 hotspot
Brazil is fast approaching Russia to become the world's No. 2 COVID-19 hot spot behind the United States. The country reported 1,188 new deaths on Thursday, bringing its total to 20,047 COVID-19-related fatalities. Its total number of confirmed cases reached 310,087.
Brazil recorded its highest number of deaths from coronavirus within 24 hours and surpassed 300,000 total cases, the country's Health Ministry announced. It is fast approaching Russia to become the world's No. 2 COVID-19 hotspot behind the United States.
Brazil reported 1,188 new deaths on Thursday, bringing its total to 20,047 COVID-19-related fatalities. Its total number of confirmed cases reached 310,087 on Thursday, up 18,508 from Wednesday, the ministry said, adding that the true numbers are likely higher but Brazil has not carried out widespread testing.
Amid the grave health crisis, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who once compared the virus to "a little flu" tweeted about the new Health Ministry protocol regarding the use of chloroquine to treat mild and moderate cases of COVID-19.
He said: "There is still no scientific proof, but it is being monitored and used in Brazil and around the world…we are at war 'the shame of not fighting is worse than being defeated' – God Bless our Brazil."
The President is under growing pressure for his handling of the outbreak, which looks set to destroy the Brazilian economy and threatens his re-election hopes.
He strongly opposes social distancing measures and has repeatedly pushed for greater usage of chloroquine as a remedy for the virus, despite health experts' warnings about risks.
Bolsonaro's relationship with governors and mayors has also grown increasingly bitter. The President is angry over local shutdowns to slow the spread of the virus and argues that keeping the economy running is more important.
He said he will approve on Thursday or Friday a 60 billion-real ($10.72 billion) federal aid program for states and cities hit by coronavirus but asked governors for support freezing public sector pay increases.