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Brazil hotbed

Brazil, hotbed for COVID-19 vaccine testing, may struggle to produce its own – Reuters

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian officials say they can start making COVID-19 vaccines developed by British and Chinese researchers within a year. Experts say it will take at least twice as long, leaving Brazil reliant on imports to slow the world’s second-worst outbreak.

A nurse administers China’s SinoVac coronavirus potential vaccine to volunteer and nurse Sarah Rangon at Emilio Ribas Institute in Sao Paulo, Brazil July 30, 2020. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

If Brazil’s underfunded medical institutions are unable to meet their ambitious goals, it would mark the latest failure by President Jair Bolsonaro’s government to control the virus. It would also leave Brazil vulnerable to a frenzied global scramble for vaccine supplies.

Some of the most advanced COVID-19 vaccine candidates – including from AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) in partnership with Oxford University, and China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd (SVA.O) – are undergoing large clinical trials in Brazil, which has more than 2.7 million reported cases and almost 95,000 deaths, second only to the United States. Researchers can get results faster by testing vaccines where active virus spread is rampant.

As part of their agreements with Brazilian authorities, AstraZeneca and Sinovac have promised the federal government and the Sao Paulo state government, respectively, tens of millions of doses of their potential vaccines. They also pledged to transfer technology so Brazil can eventually produce them domestically at leading biomedical institutes Fiocruz, in Rio de Janeiro, and Butantan, in Sao Paulo.

The institutes say production of new vaccines will begin by the middle of 2021. Brazil’s federal government has said it will invest 1.9 billion reais ($355 million) to process and produce the AstraZeneca vaccine.

But three experts told Reuters money alone would not be enough, saying it could take between two and 10 years for Brazil to produce COVID-19 vaccines, due to the difficulty of transferring technology and years of under-investment in the two production facilities.

“It’s impossible,” José Gomes Temporão, a former Brazilian health minister, said of the 2021 goal. “This takes a long time. Maybe they can accelerate a bit, but not that much.”

A former head of federal health regulator Anvisa, who asked not to be named to avoid professional conflicts, also doubted Brazil could become self sufficient in a timely manner.

“A tech transfer process lasts five to 10 years, on average. When Brazil has the complete technology, a COVID-19 vaccine will probably not be necessary anymore,” the ex-Anvisa head said, adding that Brazil is likely to have to purchase vaccines rather than produce them domestically, for the foreseeable future.

Brazil’s Health Ministry said such predictions are premature and will depend on vaccine trial results. But officials have admitted the announced timeline may be hard to attain.

“Although it seems remote, there is a possibility of delay in the development of the vaccine,” Elcio Franco, Brazil’s No.2 public health official, told reporters on Monday.

Sao Paulo’s state government, Fiocruz, Butantan, AstraZeneca and Sinovac did not respond to requests for comment.

EXPENSIVE GAMBLE

Brazil’s state and federal governments are discussing additional late-stage coronavirus vaccine trials with U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), China’s Sinopharm Group (1099.HK) and Russian diplomats.

But they quickly made big bets on the first two candidates to start testing in the country from AstraZeneca and Sinovac.

The Sinovac deal obliges Butantan to invest 85 million reais ($16 million) to conduct trials of the Chinese vaccine. In exchange, the Sao Paulo government, which runs Butantan, will get enough doses to vaccinate 60 million people.

The federal government’s memorandum of understanding with AstraZeneca requires it to buy 30 million doses of its still-unproven vaccine at a cost of $97 million, even if it fails in pivotal trials. The deal gives Brazil priority to buy 70 million more doses if the vaccine works.

As part of that deal, Brazil pledged to invest 1.9 billion reais to produce the vaccine. About 1.3 billion will go toward technology transfer, and 95 million reais for updating Fiocruz facilities. The rest will be spent on processing the vaccine.

The former Anvisa chief questioned Brazil’s big bet.

Slideshow (4 Images)

“I really think these agreements are too risky vis-a-vis the investment,” said the source. “What will happen if the Phase III (trial) shows that these vaccines are not effective?”

Brazil’s government has hedged its bets by joining the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative, which intends to guarantee fast and equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines, and aims to deliver 2 billion doses by the end of 2021.

“The idea,” said a Health Ministry source not authorized to speak publicly, “is not to put all our eggs in one basket.”

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia, Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro and Eduardo Simoes in Sao Paulo; Editing by Gabriel Stargardter, Brad Haynes and Bill Berkrot

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Brazil Passes

Brazil passes 1 million coronavirus cases with no end in sight – CNBC

Brazil passed 1 million coronavirus cases on Friday and approached 50,000 deaths, a new nadir for the world’s second worst-hit country as it struggles with a tense political climate and worsening economic outlook.

Second only to the United States in both cases and deaths, Brazil confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus on Feb. 26. The virus has spread relentlessly across the continent-sized country, eroding support for right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro and raising fears of economic collapse after years of anemic growth.

Brazil reported 1,032,913 confirmed cases on Friday, with 1,206 new deaths to take total official fatalities to 48,954, the Health Ministry said. Friday also saw a new record daily number of cases, with 54,771, suggesting the outbreak is far from over. Brazil is likely to surpass 50,000 deaths on Saturday, although weekend reporting can be lower.

Cemetery workers in protective suits shoveling earth during a funeral at the Vila Formosa cemetery in the middle of the Corona pandemic.

Lincon Zarbietti | picture alliance | Getty images

Even so, the true extent of the outbreak far exceeds the official figures, according to many experts, who cite a lack of widespread testing.

“That number of 1 million is much less than the real number of people who have been infected, because there is under-reporting of a magnitude of five to 10 times,” said Alexandre Naime Barbosa, a medical professor at the São Paulo State University. “The true number is probably at least 3 million and could even be as high as 10 million people.”

COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, arrived in Brazil via wealthy tourists returning from Europe to major southeastern cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and has spread deep into the interior, reaching 82% of Brazil’s municipalities, Health Ministry data showed.

Bolsonaro, sometimes called the “Tropical Trump,” has been widely criticized for his handling of the crisis. The country still has had no permanent health minister after losing two since April, following clashes with the president.

Bolsonaro has shunned social distancing, calling it a job-killing measure more dangerous than the virus itself. He has also promoted two anti-malarial drugs as remedies, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, despite little evidence they work.

Not wearing face mask, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro greets his supporters at Praça dos Três Poderes, in front of the Planalto Palace on Sunday, May 24, 2020.

Andre Borges | NurPhoto | NurPhoto

The far-right former army captain’s handling of the crisis has prompted Brazilians to bang pots and pans regularly outside their apartments in protest, but it has not stopped him from wading into costly political battles with his own cabinet and the Supreme Court, stoking fears of instability.

Pressure from Bolsonaro and public fatigue after months of ineffective state and local isolation orders has led governors and mayors to begin lifting restrictions on commerce and other economic activity.

Public health experts have warned that loosening restrictions too soon threatens to accelerate contagion and drive up fatalities.

“We think that there will be a new wave after the loosening of these measures,” said Ricardo Langer, a doctor treating COVID-19 patients at the Maracanã stadium field hospital in Rio de Janeiro.

A worsening outbreak could weigh on already-grim economic forecasts. The government has said the economy will contract by 4.7% this year, while economists surveyed by the central bank think it will fall more than 6%.

Latin America has registered 90,439 deaths, according to a Reuters tally, with nearly 2 million cases.

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Brazil soars

Brazil toll soars, as WHO warns on coronavirus: Live updates – Al Jazeera English

  • Tanzanian President John Magufuli declared the East African country “coronavirus-free” thanks to prayers by citizens.
  • Coronavirus might have been spreading in China as early as August 2019, according to a Harvard Medical School research.
  • The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged countries to press on with efforts to contain the coronavirus. “More than six months into the pandemic this is not the time for any country to take its foot off the pedal,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an online briefing.
  • More than seven million people have now been confirmed to have the coronavirus with at least 406,500 dying from the disease, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The US, the UK and Brazil have recorded the highest death tolls. The US, Brazil and Russia have the most cases.

Here are the latest updates:

Tuesday, June 9

08:00 GMT – Russia records more than 8,500 new COVID-19 cases

Russia reported 8,595 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing the number of infections nationwide to 485,253.

The authorities said that 171 people had died from the virus in the last 24 hours, pushing the total death toll to 6,142. 

A medical specialist walks past personal protective equipment in a hospital in Moscow

Only US and Brazil have reported more cases of coronavirus than Russia [Reuters]

07:45 GMT – New Delhi reverses limits on COVID-19 testing, sickbeds after pressure

New Delhi has reversed orders that limited the scope of coronavirus testing and reserved hospital beds for city residents as the Indian capital’s caseload continues to surge.

Delhi’s numbers of infected jumped to 29,943 on Tuesday of India’s 266,598 total cases nationwide.

Since coming to power in 2013, the government led by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has prioritized investing in health care. Delhi has the best health care in India, drawing patients from across the country.

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New Delhi

As of Tuesday, the Indian capital has recorded almost 30,000 coronavirus cases [Danish Siddiqui/Reuters]

As lockdown restrictions eased in recent weeks, the number of people infected with coronavirus has soared in the capital. On Sunday, Kejriwal announced that hospital beds for COVID-19 patients would be reserved for Delhi residents and testing limited to those with symptoms of the disease.

But the central government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly objected to the rules, and late Monday the Delhi government set them aside, with Kejriwal tweeting that “making arrangements for treatment for people from across the country during the Covid-19 pandemic is a major challenge. But maybe it’s God’s will that we have to serve everyone in the country.”

07:20 GMT – COVID-19 may have been spreading in China in August: Harvard research

The novel coronavirus might have been spreading in China as early as August 2019, according to Harvard Medical School research based on satellite images of hospital travel patterns and search engine data.

The research used high-resolution satellite imagery of hospital parking lots in Wuhan – where the disease emerged in late 2019 – and data for symptom-related queries on search engines for things such as “cough” and “diarrhoea”.

“Increased hospital traffic and symptom search data in Wuhan preceded the documented start of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in December 2019,” according to the research.

“While we cannot confirm if the increased volume was directly related to the new virus, our evidence supports other recent work showing that emergence happened before identification at the Huanan Seafood market.”

“These findings also corroborate the hypothesis that the virus emerged naturally in southern China and was potentially already circulating at the time of the Wuhan cluster,” according to the research.

It showed a steep increase in hospital parking lot occupancy in August 2019.

“In August, we identify a unique increase in searches for diarrhoea which was neither seen in previous flu seasons or mirrored in the cough search data,” according to the research. 

China Wuhan

 China first reported to the WHO a pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan on December 31, 2019 [Hector Retamal/AFP]

06:45 GMT – Tanzania president declares country ‘coronavirus-free’

Tanzanian President John Magufuli declared the East African country “coronavirus-free,” local media reported. 

President John Magufuli attributed the claimed success over the worldwide pandemic to prayers and fasting that the people of Tanzania have offered to God.

“It gives me joy to be the leader of a country that puts God first, God loves Tanzania,” Jamvi TV in Tanzania reported.

“The works of the devil will always be defeated in Tanzania because Tanzanians love God and that is why even the corona has been defeated by God,” Magufuli told a Catholic congregation in the capital Dodoma.

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in NamangaKenya closed its borders with Tanzania due to rising cases of imported COVID-19 [Thomas Mukoya/Reuters]

06:30 GMT – Mexico reopens its economy after COVID-19 lockdown

Mexico is reopening its economy after it implemented measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But the numbers of bodies piling up in morgues and crematoriums in the capital don’t seem to match the numbers that President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says are helping to flatten the curve.

06:00 GMT –

Hello, this is Hamza Mohamed in Doha taking over from my colleague Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

05:30 GMT –

I am now handing the blog to my colleagues in Doha. A quick recap of developments in the past few hours: Deaths have jumped in Brazil where there is anger and confusion over the data being released, Pakistan hs reported its deadliest-ever day with 105 deaths from coronavirus, and Jakarta’s governor Anies Baswedan has told Al Jazeera he’s confident the Indonesian capital is in control of the outbreak there.

05:15 GMT – New Zealanders hug, shop and party after restrictions lifted

New Zealanders are enjoying their return to normal life after the last of the country’s coronavirus restrictions were removed at midnight.

“It’s really helped generate that absolute buzz and that feeling of more normality really,” cafe owner Katy Ellis told Reuters of the removal of social distancing guidelines. 

Cities came back to life as people returned to their offices and browsed the shops with public transport crowded once again.

“People are shopping, dining and just hanging about holding hands,” Steve Price told the news agency from Wellington. “It’s so lovely to see.” 

Not just light at the end of the tunnel: double rainbow on Day 1 of Level 1 (Waipu, NZ) pic.twitter.com/U46BKwZmgd

— Chris Chang (@ChrisChang) June 9, 2020

05:05 GMT – Pakistan records deadliest day yet in outbreak

Pakistan has recorded its deadliest day of the coronavirus outbreak so far, with at least 105 people dead, according to Al Jazeera correspondent Asad Hashim.

The country also registered 4,646 new cases taking the overall number of cases to 108,317.

Pakistan has seen a sustained spike in cases since late May. In an address to the nation on Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said his government expected cases to peak in late July. He also defended his decision to keep the economy open, arguing that lockdowns were “not a solution” to the pandemic. 

03:55 GMT – Antibodies found in US Navy sailors on aircraft carrier: study

A US Navy investigation into the spread of coronavirus on board the Theodore Roosevelt has found 60 percent of the roughly 400 sailors on the aircraft carrier who volunteered to be tested had antibodies for the virus, according to Reuters. 

All 4,800 sailors on the ship were previously tested for COVID-19 and about a quarter were positive. In April, the navy and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention began tests to look for specific antibodies to get a more accurate understanding of the virus’s spread on the ship.

Three officials cautioned that the results of the study, which could be released as early as Tuesday, could not be generalised to the entire crew. They noted the number of volunteers was less than half the 1,000 sought. Those who participated were also tested again for COVID-19 and asked to complete a survey.

One sailor died and a number of others were hospitalised as a result of the outbreak. The ship’s captain was also fired after a letter he wrote calling for stronger protections for crew was leaked.

US Navy relieves commander of coronavirus-hit ship over memo leak

03:45 GMT – Jakarta’s governor confident coronavirus under control as city reopens

Jakarta’s governor Anies Baswedan has told Al Jazeera’s Jessica Washington that he is confident coronavirus is under control and that the Indonesian capital can cope with a relaxation of lockdown measures that began on Monday,

The governor said that the situation was much better than in March and April and the authorities wanted to be at the stage where the city was “safe, healthy and productive”. You can read more of the interview here

Indonesia

Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan speaks to Al Jazeera

03:20 GMT – Venzuela says COVID-19 aid from Iran has arrived

Venezuela’s government has said a shipment of humanitarian aid from Iran arrived in the country on Monday.

Most of the supplies were test-kits, Plann ing Minister Ricardo Menendez told state television. Iran’s ambassador said the materials would “strengthen Venezuela’s fight against the coronavirus.” 

02:40 GMT – California cinemas could be open again on Friday

Cinemas in California could be open again by Friday if they follow capacity guidelines and other measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, and get the approval of local officials.

CInemas, which have closed all over the world, will have to limit attendance to 25 percent of capacity or 100 people, whichever is lower.

Movie studios are hoping enough cinemas will be open for a season of summer blockbusters with Disney’s hotly-awaited epic ‘Mulan’ slated for a July 24 release. 

01:15 GMT  – University of Washington forecasts 145,000 US deaths by early August

Researchers at the University of Washington estimate that 145,728 people in the US could die of COVID-19 by August – an increase of 5,000 deaths since their last forecast only a few days ago.

The US has confirmed almost 111,000 deaths according to data from Johns Hopkins University. 

00:00 GMT – Antibodies found in more than half the residents of Bergamo

More than half the residents tested for coronavirus in Italy’s northern province of Bergamo have been found to have coronavirus antibodies.

Health authorities said of 9,965 people tested between April 23 and June 3, 57 percent had antibodies indicating they had come into contact with the virus. The results were based on a “random” sample that officials said was sufficiently broad to give an indication of how many people had been infected in the province.

Bergamo was at the centre of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak.

23:45 GMT – Brazil reports 679 new deaths amid data controversy

Brazil has reported 679 deaths from coronavirus and 15,654 new cases amid growing controversy about its data and allegations of political manipulation.

The Health Ministry removed data from its website over the weekend and stopped releasing cumulative totals in relation to the disease’s spread. In a statement on Monday, it said the changes were made because of mistakes in the dataset from two states that were later corrected.

The move has fuelled calls for an inquiry in a country where right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has dismissed the virus as a “little flu” and raged against lockdowns.

“By changing the numbers the Ministry of Health covers the sun with a sieve,” said Rodrigo Maia, the speaker of the lower house. “The credibility of the statistics needs to be urgently recovered. A ministry that manipulates numbers creates a parallel world in order not to face the reality of the facts.”

23:30 GMT – UN reiterates importance of investing in health

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the president of the UN General Assembly, has stressed the importance of investing in health which he said was an “investment in human capital, social and economic development, and the empowerment of people.” 

The UN adopted a landmark political declaration on universal health coverage last September.

—-

Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. I’m Kate Mayberry in Kuala Lumpur.

Read all the updates from ye

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Brazil sends

U.S. sends Brazil 2 million doses of hydroxychloroquine, drug touted by Trump – Yahoo News

By Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has supplied Brazil with 2 million doses of hydroxychloroquine for use against the coronavirus, the two governments said on Sunday, despite medical warnings about risks associated with the anti-malaria drug.

The White House released a joint announcement on the drug, whose use has been touted both by U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, just days after the World Health Organization suspended testing it in COVID-19 patients because of safety concerns.

Trump himself said in mid-May that he was on a regimen of hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had issued a warning about its use for the coronavirus.

Bolsonaro, a right-wing leader who has forged personal ties with Trump, said recently he kept a box of the drug in case his 93-year-old mother needed it.

“The American and Brazilian people stand in solidarity in the fight against the coronavirus,” the statement said. “We are announcing the United States Government has delivered two million doses of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to the people of Brazil.”

“HCQ will be used as a prophylactic to help defend Brazil’s nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals against the virus. It will also be used as a therapeutic to treat Brazilians who become infected,” it said.

The two countries will also conduct a joint research effort that will include “randomized controlled clinical trials,” the statement said, adding that the United States would soon send 1,000 ventilators to Brazil.

Brazil reported a record 33,274 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Saturday, its Health Ministry said, and the death toll surpassed that of France and now ranks only below the United States, Britain and Italy.

Demand for the decades-old hydroxychloroquine has surged as Trump repeatedly promoted its use against the coronavirus despite a lack of scientific evidence.

(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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Brazil Media

Brazil media boycott Bolsonaro residence after abuse of reporters – The Guardian

Globo among those to suspend reporting owing to harassment by president’s supporters





Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro hurl abuse at journalists outside the Palácio da Alvorada in Brasília on Monday.







Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro hurl abuse at journalists outside the Palácio da Alvorada in Brasília on Monday.
Photograph: Eraldo Peres/AP

Some of Brazil’s top news organisations are to suspend reporting from outside the presidential residence in the latest sign of deteriorating press freedoms under the country’s media-bashing president, Jair Bolsonaro.

The decision – the equivalent of British outlets ceasing to report from outside No 10 – follows months of verbal attacks on reporters outside the Palácio da Alvorada in Brasília by hardcore supporters of the far-right president.

The harassment reached new heights on Monday as journalists were subjected to a vicious torrent of abuse from Bolsonaristas, with footage showing reporters being called scum, rats, extortionists, rogues, crooks and sons of bitches.

“Communist, sellout media. Bunch of crooks,” one man shouted.

Folha de S.Paulo
(@folha)

Já à tarde, em frente ao Ministério da Defesa, manifestantes voltaram a xingar jornalistas após Bolsonaro deixar o local. Foi necessária intervenção da PM, conta @danielcarvalho_

“Lixo! Filhos da puta! Mentirosos! Vocês são mentirosos! Comunistas! Achacadores da República” pic.twitter.com/r7Pr4dnXR1

May 25, 2020

The news organisations withdrawing journalists include the television broadcasters Globo and Band, the radio station CBN, the websites G1 and Metrópoles and a trio of leading newspapers – Valor Econômico, O Globo and Folha de São Paulo.

“The lack of security for its journalists outside the Palácio da Alvorada has led Grupo Globo to decide that its professionals will no longer work there,” Brazil’s largest media group said in a statement.

Verbal attacks on journalists have become a hallmark of Bolsonaro’s presidency, with Brazil’s Trump-admiring leader often egging on supporters outside his home.

Bolsonaro’s third son, Eduardo, who is the representative of Steve Bannon’s far-right The Movement in South America – regularly attacks what he calls the “extrema imprensa” (extreme press) .

On Monday, the president suggested Brazil’s overseas image was being damaged by a leftwing media conspiracy, after the British Daily Telegraph described him as “the man who broke Brazil” because of his handling of the Covid-19 crisis.

“Trump suffers a lot with this,” Bolsonaro said.

Politicians from across the political spectrum condemned the Bolsonarian attacks on the media.

Alessandro Molon, a member of the Brazilian Socialist party who is leader of the opposition in the chamber of deputies, told Folha de São Paulo: “This just shows the extent to which Bolsonaro remaining in the presidency threatens our democracy and our fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression. What we are witnessing is very serious. Either our institutions stop Bolsonaro or he will destroy the country.”

Manuela D’Ávila, from the Communist party of Brazil, tweeted: “It is absurd that [these organisations] … have to suspend their coverage outside the palace because the president disrespects, threatens and incites his followers to attack journalists.”

Vera Magalhães, a prominent political journalist, tweeted: “Brazil no longer enjoys full freedom of the press.”

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Brazil records

Brazil records world’s highest daily coronavirus death toll for first time | TheHill – The Hill

Brazil for the first time has surpassed the U.S. with the most reported coronavirus fatalities over a 24-hour period Monday, Reuters reported.

Brazil confirmed 807 deaths, while the U.S. reported 620, according to the news service. 

The South American country now has the second-largest outbreak in the world, behind the United States. Brazil has confirmed at least 374,898 cases of the virus, in addition to 23,473 deaths. The U.S. has recorded more than 1.6 million cases and 98,191 deaths, according to data from The New York Times.

The White House on Sunday announced that President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: ‘We’ve overreacted a little bit’ to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets ‘unrelentingly liberal’ in ‘fear and loathing’ of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE was restricting the entry of non-U.S. citizens traveling from Brazil amid its ongoing outbreak.

“Today, the President has taken decisive action to protect our country by suspending the entry of aliens who have been in Brazil during the 14-day period before seeking admittance to the United States,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement, adding that the move does not “apply to the flow of commerce between the United States and Brazil.” 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has previously referred to the coronavirus as a “little flu” and encouraged some businesses to open despite the ongoing pandemic. He also dismissed his former health minister following a reported dispute over the country’s coronavirus response.  

Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program, told reporters Friday that South America “has become a new epicenter for the disease.” 

“We’ve seen many South American countries with increasing numbers of cases and clearly there’s a concern across many of those countries, but certainly the most affected is Brazil at this point,” Ryan said.

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Brazil Coronavirus

Brazil coronavirus deaths surpass 20,000 after record daily toll – Al Jazeera English

More than 20,000 people have so far died from COVID-19 in Brazil as the country registered its highest one-day toll.

The health ministry said on Thursday the 1,188 deaths recorded over the previous 24-hour period pushed the overall tally to 20,047.

More:

Brazil, the epicentre of the pandemic in Latin America, has now recorded more than 310,000 confirmed cases – but experts say a lack of testing means the real figures are probably much higher.

With its curve of infections and deaths rising sharply, the country of 210 million ranks third in the world in terms of total cases, behind the United States and Russia.

The death toll – the sixth highest in the world – has doubled in just 11 days, according to ministry data.

Despite the worrying spread of the disease, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday continued his calls to scrap lockdown measures to revive a flagging economy.

But almost all of the country’s 27 states are under some sort of lockdown order, though Brazilians are wearying of the restrictions in place since the end of March.

The state of Sao Paulo, the economic and cultural capital of Brazil, is by far the most affected, with about a quarter of the country’s deaths and infections.

Hospitals in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and various states across northern and northeastern Brazil are near collapse.

The authorities have been racing to set up field hospitals with more beds, but are struggling to build them fast enough.

Sao Paulo Governor Joao Doria, who has clashed often with the president over containment measures, has said the country has to fight both coronavirus and “Bolsonarovirus”.

But Bolsonaro and the governors sounded a conciliatory note on Thursday as they held a video conference on coordinating the response to the pandemic.

The president called it “a great victory for the Brazilian people”.

Doria, for his part, urged unity.

“Brazil needs to be united. If we’re at war, we all face defeat. Let’s go together in peace, Mr President, together for Brazil,” he said.

‘We are at war’

Bolsonaro, who has famously compared the virus with a “little flu”, appears to have pinned his hopes on the anti-malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to stop it.

The drugs have shown inconclusive results against coronavirus, and scientists say further studies are needed to determine whether they are safe and effective for COVID-19.

But like his US counterpart Donald Trump, Bolsonaro sees them as potential wonder drugs.

His government recommended on Wednesday that all COVID-19 patients receive one of the drugs as soon as they show symptoms.

“There is still no scientific proof, but (chloroquine) is being monitored and used in Brazil and around the world,” Bolsonaro wrote on Twitter. “We are at war.”

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Brazil Coronavirus

Coronavirus: Brazil records third-highest Covid-19 infection level – BBC News

Gravediggers carry the coffin of Antonia Rodrigues during her funeral who passed away from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 18, 2src2src

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Brazil now has the third-highest number of cases and the sixth-highest death toll

Brazil has become the country with the third-highest number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the world, after registering a total of more than 250,000 cases.

Only the US and Russia have recorded more infections.

Experts say insufficient testing might mean that the real figure in Brazil could be 15 times higher.

The country’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has dismissed the risks and compared Covid-19 to “a little flu”.

His handling of the outbreak – which has included calls for lockdowns imposed by state governors to be lifted – has led to criticism and the resignation of Health Minister Nelson Teich last week.

Mr Teich’s predecessor, Luiz Mandetta, was sacked by President Bolsonaro after the two men disagreed over social distancing measures.

But Mr Bolsonaro’s focus on minimising economic disruption has been welcomed by many. Supporters who have organised anti-lockdown rallies, some of which the president attended.

How bad is the situation in Brazil?

Brazil now has more than a quarter of a million confirmed cases. More than 16,000 Covid-19 patients have died, the sixth-highest death toll in the world.

The health system of its largest city, São Paulo, could collapse within two weeks, Mayor Bruno Covas has warned.

The city has a population of about 12 million, and official say show most residents are ignoring social distancing rules. More than 3,000 people have died with the virus in São Paulo.

But it is not only urban centres that have been badly hit. Amazonas state had almost 21,000 confirmed cases as of Monday.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionAerial footage of Latin America’s biggest graveyard

Health services in Manaus, the state capital, have been overwhelmed and mass graves are being used to bury the dead.

How is President Bolsonaro handling the crisis?

Mr Bolsonaro continues to oppose lockdown measures, arguing that they will wreck the economy.

In March he made a speech calling on mayors and governors to roll back restrictions: “Our lives have to go on. Jobs must be kept. We must get back to normal.”

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionThe BBC’s South America correspondent Katy Watson looks at how Bolsonaro has responded to the virus in Brazil

The president described the closures of businesses and schools, together with restrictions on public transport, as “scorched-earth” policies.

Despite the rapidly rising infection rate, Mr Bolsonaro argued that most people, including himself, had nothing to fear from the virus.

“With my history as an athlete, if I were infected with the virus I would have no reason to worry. I would feel nothing, or it would be at most just a little flu,” he said.

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Brazil health

Brazil health minister Teich resigns just weeks into the job – Al Jazeera English

In Brazil, a second health minister has resigned in less than a month.

Nelson Teich quit after criticising President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Brazil has reported more than 200,000 cases.

And it is not the only country in Latin America that is suffering.

Infections are rising faster than ever in Mexico, but the lockdown is being eased there.

Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti reports.

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