Brazil’s coronavirus deaths pass 150,000 as infection rate slows

Experts say number of new cases falling but rate it still slow compared with countries in Europe and Asia, suggesting it may still be in its first wave.

With 212 million inhabitants, Brazil has accumulated the majority of Latin America's coronavirus deaths with at least 150,198 since the first death was recorded in March [File: Myke Sena/EPA]

Brazil’s has surpassed 150,000 deaths from coronavirus, according to the country’s health ministry, but there were signs that the rate of infections continued to slow in the South American country.

The toll came as Latin America and the Caribbean marked 10 million cases on Saturday and more than 360,000 deaths. The region is the worst hit in terms of fatalities, according to official figures.

With 212 million inhabitants, Brazil has accumulated the majority of the region’s deaths: 150,198 from COVID-19 since the first death was recorded in March, and 5,082,637 infections, the ministry said.

It is the second-highest national death toll in the world, after the United States, which has recorded more than 213,000 fatalities from COVID-19; and the third-highest number of infections after the US and India.

Officials and other health experts say the actual number of fatalities is likely to be higher.

In Latin America, Brazil is followed by Colombia, with 894,300 cases and 27,495 deaths; Argentina with 871,455 cases and 23,225 deaths; and Peru with 843,355 cases and 33,158 deaths.

Mexico, although it has fewer cases at 809,751, has suffered a high number of deaths – the fourth-highest in the world – with the toll currently 83,507.

Brazil’s tally has been falling slowly since it plateaued in earlier in the year, when it saw an average of approximately 1,000 deaths per day for two months.

But experts said recent months have been slow compared with countries in Europe and Asia, which saw a steeper decline, suggesting Brazil may still be in its first wave of the virus.

The latest news has rekindled the pain of Naiane Moura, a sales consultant, who lost her father Elivaldo to COVID-19 in April.

The 58-year-old postman had no prior illness and battled COVID-19 for seven days in a public hospital in Manaus, Brazil’s largest city in the Amazon.

“When I see 150,000, I see my father alongside many other faceless bodies,” Moura told AP news agency. “I didn’t imagine that we would reach that number. I don’t believe that we will ever be able to totally overcome this.”

A nurse in Rio de Janeiro takes a blood sample from a woman for a COVID-19 test with the help of ‘Dados do Bem’ app, developed by doctors and scientists to use data information to analyze the evolution of population immunity [Pilar Olivares/Reuters]

From the beginning, Brazil has faced the pandemic with its leaders divided.

President Jair Bolsonaro has downplayed the disease from the start, despite contracting it himself, and has insisted on a return to normalcy to prevent economic collapse.

In contrast, state governors and mayors applied social distancing measures at the start of the crisis – though with the pandemic hitting economies, they have begun loosening the restrictions in recent months.

Since it emerged in China late last year, the virus has killed more than one million worldwide, infected more than 36 million and forced millions more out of work as the pandemic batters the global economy.

Source: News Agencies