SAO PAULO (AP) – Brazil reported a 24-hour death toll from COVID-19 that surpassed 4,000 for the first time on Tuesday, making it the third country to exceed that daily threshold.
Many governors, mayors and judges are reopening parts of the economy despite persistent chaos in overcrowded hospitals and a collapsed healthcare system in various parts of the country.
Brazil’s Health Ministry said there were 4,195 deaths in the previous 24 hours, and that the country’s number of pandemic victims quickly approached 340,000, the second highest in the world. Only the US and Peru have had a daily death toll of more than 4,000.
The state of Sao Paulo, the most populous in Brazil with 46 million inhabitants, recorded almost 1,400 deaths at the last count. Health officials said the figure was due in part to the Easter holidays, which delayed the count.
Local authorities across the country argue that the number of cases and hospitalizations is trending down after a week of partial closure.
Miguel Lago, executive director of Brazil’s Institute for Health Policy Studies, which advises public health officials, said the reopening is a mistake that he fears will bring even higher death figures, although he believes it is unlikely that it will happen. reverse.
“The fact is that President Jair Bolsonaro’s anti-blockade narrative has won,” Lago told The Associated Press. “Mayors and governors are politically prohibited from enforcing social distancing policies because they know that the president’s supporters, including business leaders, will sabotage him.”
Bolsonaro, who has long played down the risks of the coronavirus, stands completely against the lockdowns as they are detrimental to the economy.
COVID-19 patients use more than 90% of the beds in the intensive care unit in most Brazilian states, although the figures have remained stable since last week. Still, hundreds are dying while awaiting care, and basic supplies, such as oxygen and sedatives, are running low in several states.
Less than 3% of Brazil’s 210 million people have received both doses of coronavirus vaccines, according to Our World in Data, an online research site.
Over the weekend, Brazil’s Supreme Court justices began a tug-of-war over the reopening of religious buildings, which were closed by many local authorities despite the federal government’s decision to label them as essential services.
Some churches welcomed their faithful on Easter Sunday, but others were stopped by mayors and governors. Its reopening will be resolved in the superior court on Wednesday, but some municipalities, such as Belo Horizonte, voted on Tuesday to keep the religious buildings open.
Also on Tuesday, a Rio de Janeiro judge allowed the schools to reopen as Mayor Eduardo Paes wanted. Hours later, the mayors of Campinas and Sorocaba, two of the most populated cities in the state of Sao Paulo, agreed to reopen the business with a drive-thru purchasing system after a 10-day suspension.
Professional soccer executives in Sao Paulo said they expect to play games this week after a 15-day hiatus, promising local prosecutors that they will follow stricter health protocols.