Brazil registered a record number of daily deaths from the novel coronavirus for a second consecutive day, according to Health Ministry data released on Wednesday, even as city and state authorities move aggressively to open commerce back up.
The nation recorded 1,349 new coronavirus deaths on Wednesday and 28,633 additional confirmed cases, the data showed. Brazil has now registered 32,548 deaths and 584,016 total confirmed cases.
Latin America as a whole has emerged as the world’s worst coronavirus hotspot, with nations like Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Panama also grappling with massive caseloads.
Mexico also set a new record of 1,092 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, with cases there blasting past 100,000.
In Brazil, right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly downplayed the threat of the virus, saying on Tuesday that death was “everyone’s destiny.”
State and local authorities that have supported quarantining measures are loosening restrictions as hunger grows and public finances, shaky in the best of times, plummet deep into the red.
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In Rio de Janeiro, the nation’s second-largest city, many types of shops were allowed to open for the first time in months on Tuesday.
“First, we have to think of health before everything. Without doubt, we have to think about the economy with hunger and all those things, but COVID-19 is a disease that kills,” said Renato Maya, a resident of Niteroi, right across the bay from Rio, as he took a city-provided coronavirus test on Wednesday.
“The reopening to me seems necessary, but it needs to be done quite carefully.”
(Reporting by Gram Slattery and Sebastian Rocandio; Editing by Sandra Maler and Stephen Coates)