Brazil jumps to world No. 2 in coronavirus cases, behind the U.S.

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil became the No. 2 hotspot for coronavirus cases on Friday, second only to the United States, after confirming that 330,890 people were infected by the virus and catching up with Russia, the Ministry of Health said.

Brazil registered 1,001 daily coronavirus deaths on Friday, bringing the total number of deaths to 21,048, the Ministry of Health said.

In Sao Paulo, the worst-hit city, aerial video showed rows of open plots in the Formosa cemetery while rushing to keep up with demand.

Right-wing extremist President Jair Bolsonaro has been widely criticized for addressing the outbreak and has also been at the center of a deeper political crisis.

The former army captain has seen his polls drop, hurt by his opposition to social distance measures, support for the unproven chloroquine remedy, and struggles with experienced public health officials.

The actual number of deaths and deaths is likely to be higher than the figures suggest, as Latin America’s top economy has slowly started testing.

The outbreak accelerates. On Monday, Brazil overtook Britain to become the country with the third highest number of infections. It surpassed Russia on Friday, but it is unlikely to pass the United States soon. The largest economy in the world has more than 1.5 million cases.

Since the outbreak started, Bolsonaro has lost two health ministers after they were pressured to promote the early use of anti-malarial drugs such as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. Several leading public health experts have also left. Many have been replaced by soldiers.

On Wednesday, interim health minister Eduardo Pazuello, an active duty army chief, approved new guidelines for the wider use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in mild cases.

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