Brazil, the Latin American country hit hardest in the pandemic, appears to be quickly becoming a new global flashpoint.
The total death toll from the new coronavirus has now hit 12,400 in the country, with 177,589 confirmed cases – up 9,258 from the day before.
“Certainly, the increase of cases (in Brazil) in the last several days is a case of concern,” Marcos Espinal, head of the communicable diseases department at the Pan American Health Organization, told a briefing in Washington.
Experts say under-testing means the real numbers in Brazil are probably far higher.
“Brazil is only testing people who end up in the hospital,” said Domingo Alves, one of the authors of a study published last week that estimated the real number of infections in the country was 15 times higher than the official figure.
“It’s hard to know what’s really happening based on the available data. We don’t have a real policy to manage the outbreak. The pandemic is passing through as it pleases,” he told AFP.
Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has drawn criticism for downplaying the pandemic, comparing the virus to a “little flu,” condemning the “hysteria” around it, and urging state and local authorities to end stay-at-home measures.
Previously, the highest one-day toll in Brazil was 751 deaths on May 8.