BRASILIA, (Reuters) – Brazil’s COVID-19 death toll passed 200,000 yesterday, the health ministry said, as daily new cases accelerated to a record of 87,843 after year-end holidays in the country with the world’s second-deadliest outbreak.
Experts warn Brazil has still not seen the height of cases resulting from people celebrating Christmas and New Year’s with friends and family. Others, including President Jair Bolsonaro, booked their regular beach vacations at the height of summer in the southern hemisphere. Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said on Thursday the country is already in a second wave.
“It’s a shame what happened in the summer. What we expect is that after January 15, we will unfortunately face a critical state again in hospitals,” said Rafael Deucher, a doctor in Paraná state, where 80% of public intensive care beds occupied.
Immunologists say various factors are likely to exacerbate the second wave. Brazil is still at least three weeks away from beginning its vaccine campaign, according to the government, which has been widely criticized for not moving as quickly as other countries.
“People are tired and are no longer adhering to preventive measures due to psychological strain, but also due to the lack of a unified political discourse,” said Alexandre Naime, head of the department of infectious diseases at Universidade Estadual Paulista’s faculty of medicine.
“There are many people who are against science and public health, against the mask, and in favor of big gatherings.”
Brazil registered a 1,524 additional deaths over the past 24 hours, according to health ministry data. Since the outbreak began, nearly 8 million people have been infected, while 200,498 have died.
“We want to offer our solidarity to every family that lost loved ones,” the ministry said in a statement.