Advertisement

With more coronavirus cases than Spain or Italy, Brazil is world’s 4th biggest hotspot

Coronavirus around the world: May 16, 2020
WATCH: Coronavirus around the world: May 16, 2020

Brazil’s confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus rose on Saturday past those of Spain and Italy, which was once the epicenter of the pandemic, making Brazil’s outbreak the fourth largest in the world, according to official figures.

Brazil’s Health Ministry registered 14,919 new confirmed cases in the prior 24 hours, taking the total to 233,142, behind the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom.

Brazil has done just a fraction of the testing seen in those three countries.

READ MORE: Brazil loses second health minister in a month as coronavirus outbreak grows

The global distinction is likely to pile pressure on President Jair Bolsonaro, who lost his second health minister in a month on Friday as he defies public health experts and calls for widespread use of unproven drugs.

Story continues below advertisement

Bolsonaro has been fiercely critical of the orders by many of Brazil’s state governors for strict social isolation and quarantine to combat the spread of the virus, including the closure of schools, shops and restaurants.

Coronavirus outbreak: U.K. education minister details plans for phased reopening of schools
Coronavirus outbreak: U.K. education minister details plans for phased reopening of schools

Bolsonaro argues that the toll on the economy is becoming unbearable and businesses must be allowed to reopen as soon as possible. The government now expects Brazil will post its biggest annual economic contraction this year since records began over a century ago.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Brazil’s vice president, Hamilton Mourao, underwent a COVID-19 test and was placed in isolation at his official residence on Saturday, after a public servant who had been near him last week tested positive.

READ MORE: Biggest threat to Brazil’s coronavirus response may be its own leader: medical journal

Story continues below advertisement

Mourao, 66, will not fulfill official duties on Monday, when the results are expected. Bolsonaro has undergone several coronavirus tests after ministers and other close aides tested positive.

Nationwide testing in Brazil still lags far behind European nations. Brazil had processed nearly 338,000 novel coronavirus tests in official labs by the beginning of the week, according to the Health Ministry. Another 145,000 tests were under analysis or waiting in line.

Coronavirus outbreak: IOC’s delayed Tokyo Olympics will make ‘necessary decisions at the right time’
Coronavirus outbreak: IOC’s delayed Tokyo Olympics will make ‘necessary decisions at the right time’

By contrast, Italy and Spain have each run some 1.9 million official diagnostic tests for the virus.

Brazil’s Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 816 new deaths related to the virus, bringing the total to 15,633.

Coronavirus outbreak: Why the economic fallout is hitting younger generations the hardest
Coronavirus outbreak: Why the economic fallout is hitting younger generations the hardest