Global coronavirus cases surpass 5 million, infections rising in South America

Clay Curtis
May 21, 2020

As he's doing nearly daily to redirect the conversation from the fact that the United States, by far, has the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world, Trump claimed that the record USA death toll is the result of more COVID-19 testing in the United States.

Brazil overtook Britain on Monday to become the country with the third-highest number of confirmed infections, behind the United States and Russian Federation.

Public health experts say the peak is not expected until June and fear that the true scale of the crisis is far greater because of insufficient testing.

Brazil has registered 16,792 COVID-19 deaths, the sixth-highest toll in the world.

The ministry said numerous 1,179 new deaths did not occur yesterday and were only being registered now because of delays in confirming the cause of death.

The global toll now stands at more than 323,000, according to an AFP tally.

Bolsonaro has been a bitter opponent of lockdown measures, but most of the country's 27 state governors have ignored him and imposed their own.

Trump is especially keen to reopen businesses ahead of an election due in November, and his Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned the USA economy risks suffering "permanent damage" the longer the lockdown continues.

The government now expects Brazil will post its biggest annual economic contraction this year since records began over a century ago.

Italy's shops, restaurants set to reopen as lockdown eases further
Italy's European neighbours are also urging caution about tourism, with Britons still advised against any non-essential travel. Shops, hair salons, and restaurants can finally operate again across Italy as the country seeks to ease its 10-week lockdown.

An ally of United States president Donald Trump, Bolsonaro blamed China for the viral infection and creating fear among its perceived enemies.

Bolsonaro has been a strong advocate for wider use of hydroxychloroquine, a view that has cost the country two health ministers in the last month.

Mr Bolsonaro said interim Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello was to issue new guidelines yesterday expanding the recommended use of the anti-malarial drug chloroquine to treat the coronavirus.

The president told Brazilian media that Pazuello, an active-duty army general, would sign the new chloroquine guidelines and keep the top job for now.

The coronavirus surge in Latin America has forced some areas to suspend their plans to loosen restrictions, with Argentina's second city Cordoba rolling back plans to ease a lockdown because of a spike in infections.

Medical experts said studies have not confirmed the effectiveness of the drugs in treating the CCP virus, including Marcos Espinal, director for communicable diseases at the Pan American Health Organization.

They urged special measures to protect vulnerable populations among the indigenous, poor and racial minorities.

There have been warnings about the impact of the pandemic on the least privileged communities, and World Bank chief David Malpass said that up to 60 million people could be "pushed into extreme poverty".

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