Brazil is now world’s fastest-growing coronavirus hot spot, as São Paulo registers deadliest 24 hours yet

Graves of people who died in the past 30 days fill a new section of the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery, amid the coronavirus pandemic in Manaus, Brazil, on May 11.
Graves of people who died in the past 30 days fill a new section of the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery, amid the coronavirus pandemic in Manaus, Brazil, on May 11.(Felipe Dana/AP)

Brazil, now the world’s fastest growing coronavirus hot spot, is bracing for an even more catastrophic future, as a chaotic political crisis is fueled by a president who refuses to acknowledge the seriousness of the pandemic.
In the past week alone, the country of 210 million accounted for 13% of all new coronavirus infections in the world, according to data analyzed by Bloomberg.
Last Tuesday, Brazil surpassed Germany with the seventh-highest number of cases in the world. In just seven days, Latin America’s largest economy overtook France, Italy, Spain and the U.K.
With 257,396 cases as of Tuesday morning, Brazil is poised to take the No. 2 spot from Russia, which has 299,941 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The U.S. remains the No. 1, with more than 1.5 million cases.

According to the Brazilian news site G1, the state of São Paulo — whose capital of the same name is the country’s financial center — set a record in coronavirus-related deaths in 24 hours.

On Tuesday, state officials said that 324 people died from coronavirus complications, an increase of 7% from the previous 24 hours.

The state now has registered 65,995 cases, including 5,147 deaths.

“We are losing the battle against the virus, that’s the reality,” said Dimas Covas, the coordinator for the state’s coronavirus contingency. “The virus, at this moment, is winning the war,” he added.

The devastating numbers come amid an unprecedented turmoil in the administration of the country’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro.

Widely criticized for downplaying the pandemic — which he has repeatedly referred to as a “little flu” — Bolsonaro, a former army captain who insists on the reopening of the country, has lost two health ministers in less than a month.

On Friday, Nelson Teich suddenly resigned over the president’s handling of the crisis, after only 28 days on the job. He reportedly quit over his refusal to comply with orders by the president, who wanted to change protocol on how chloroquine should be prescribed.

Teich had replaced a popular minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who was fired on April 26 after a near month-long back-and-forth power struggle with the president over coronavirus concerns.

On Tuesday, the country’s new acting health ministry, Eduardo Pazuello, an army general on active duty, announced the appointment of nine army soldiers to serve in the ministry.

“Nothing compares to the level of chaos we’re seeing in Brazil,” Thomaz Favaro, a political analyst at Control Risks, a risk consulting firm, told Bloomberg.

“The way they’re out of sync reduces the impact of measures,” he said. “Communication is the main tool governments have to fight the pandemic, and with so many different messages, it reduces the power of social isolation and creates a fertile landscape for fake news and conspiracy theories.”

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