Brazil coronavirus outbreak worsens with caseload inching towards numbers seen in US

A room with patients undergoing COVID-19 treatment at the Gilberto Novaes Municipal Campaign Hospital, in the city of Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil. Source: EFE

Brazil could soon have more coronavirus cases than any nation except the United States.

Brazil's coronavirus outbreak has worsened and it could soon have the second-highest number of cases in the world as the Health Ministry reported 888 new deaths and nearly 20,000 new cases in a single day.

Russia currently has the second highest number of cases.

Brazil's confirmed case tally now stands at 291,579, according to the Health Ministry.

Cemetery workers in protective gear bury Amanda da Silva, 22, who died of COVID-19 at the Caju cemetery, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Cemetery workers in protective gear bury Amanda da Silva, 22, who died of COVID-19 at the Caju cemetery, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

On Monday, Brazil overtook Britain to become the country with the third-highest number of infections and registered a daily record of 1179 deaths on Tuesday.

President Jair Bolsonaro has been widely criticised for his handling of the outbreak. The far-right former army captain has long snubbed social distancing measures, arguing instead for reopening the economy.

He has also become an increasingly strong advocate for the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible remedy for COVID-19, despite warnings from health experts of risks.

On Wednesday, the Health Ministry issued new guidelines for wider use of anti-malarial drugs in mild coronavirus cases.

Interim Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello, an active duty army general, authorised the modified protocol after two trained doctors left the ministry's top job under pressure to promote early use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine.

"We are at war. Worse than defeat would be the shame of not putting up a fight," Mr Bolsonaro tweeted to explain the government decision to put forward the drugs without proof of their effectiveness.

Brazil's coronavirus death toll now stands at 18,859.

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Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

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