AFP /Rio de Janeiro
Brazil’s death toll from the new coronavirus has surpassed Italy’s to become the third-highest in the world.
The bleak figures from Brazil underlined the toll the virus is taking in Latin America, the latest epicentre in the pandemic.
Brazil’s death toll topped 34,000, overtaking Italy’s to become the third-highest in the world, while cases in Mexico, Peru, Ecuador and Chile continued to mount.
Impoverished Haiti, with its fragile health system, is also seeing worrying trends as infections and deaths rise in the face of swirling rumours and disinformation about the severity of the disease.
When 25-year-old Jonel Cadet tested positive, he said: “I didn’t believe it, and I even said the president was talking nonsense.”
“It was only by coming here that I really started to believe, because I saw people who were much worse off,” he said from a hospital in Cite Soleil.
Since emerging in China late last year, the virus has infected at least 6.6mn people, killed more than 390,000 and wreaked havoc on the global economy by forcing millions to stay inside their homes.
After Brazil reported a new 24-hour record death toll, its fatalities stand behind only the US, with more than 108,000 deaths, and Britain, with nearly 40,000.
Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has fiercely criticised coronavirus stay-at-home measures, arguing that they are needlessly hurting the economy.
Brazil is the hardest-hit country in Latin America, though Mexico reported a record number of new infections for the second straight day, with 4,442.
And in Peru, desperate residents lined up to buy oxygen tanks for their loved ones, as the government declared oxygen a “strategic health resource” amid an acute shortage.
With the pandemic starting to hit the developing world with full force, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said a new vaccine had to be available to everyone across the world.
“A vaccine must be seen as a global public good — a people’s vaccine, which a growing number of world leaders are calling for,” he said in a message to a virtual summit hosted by Britain.
Governments pledged $8.8bn at the talks to support Gavi, the global vaccine alliance.
Further buoying hopes, British pharma giant AstraZeneca said yesterday it was “on track” to roll out up to 2bn doses of a coronavirus vaccine in September if trials prove successful.
The impact of the new coronavirus has spared no one in Brazil, including in the Amazon rainforest, where iconic indigenous leader Raoni Metuktire accused President Bolsonaro of using the pandemic to eradicate his people.
Known for his colourful feather headdresses and the large disc inserted in his lower lip, chief Raoni is one of the most famous defenders of the Amazon and the indigenous peoples who live there.
Now in his 90s, he has travelled the world raising awareness about the threat posed by deforestation.
But he is riding out the coronavirus pandemic in his village in the heart of the rainforest.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Columbus statue toppled by race protesters in Baltimore
Amazon tribe releases hostages after body of leader returned
One of two Seattle protesters hit by car dies, other in ICU
In Canada, art lovers head to drive-in for safe Van Gogh show
Trump attacks ‘left-wing cultural revolution’ in Rushmore address
Mexico steps up border checks to keep coronavirus at bay over July 4 holiday
US heads into Independence Day besieged by virus, Europe reopens
Eight-year-old killed, three injured in Alabama mall shooting
Trump blasts "left-wing cultural revolution" at Mount Rushmore