The US coronavirus death toll passed 100,000 as the pandemic tightened its grip on South America, which is outpacing Europe and the United States in daily infections.
AFP reports that deaths in Brazil topped 25,000 on Wednesday, and its caseload is second only to the United States, where authorities have moved to ease lockdowns and help the battered economy, despite experts recommending they remain on guard for a resurgence of the disease.
Lockdowns in some form will remain necessary until a vaccine or treatment is available, experts have warned, but many governments are under immense pressure to provide relief as businesses and citizens grow weary and resentful of mass confinement.
Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s far-right president and a Trump ally, has slammed stay-at-home orders and played down the threat of the virus, saying the economic fallout of lockdowns causes more damage than the disease itself.
But infections in Brazil have surged past 411,000, and similar bad news continues to emerge from other South American countries.
Peru logged a record 6,154 new cases in a 24-hour period, with its virus response coordinator Pilar Mazzetti warning that “difficult days, difficult weeks are coming.”
Global cases have surged to nearly 5.7 million, with more than 354,000 deaths, and in a grim signal to other countries hoping to exit lockdown, South Korea re-imposed social distancing rules after a spike in new cases.