Brazil exceeds 5 million cases of COVID-19, with about 150,000 deaths

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Brazil surpassed the mark of the five million cases of COVID-19 in just over seven months of the pandemic, which still has an incidence rate of 2,364 positives per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the highest in America and Europe.

The number of infected with coronavirus in the country now stands at 5,000,694, after adding 31,553 in one day, while the death toll rose to 148,228, with 734 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the Ministry of Health.

Brazil confirmed its first case on February 26, in the state of Sao Paulo, where a fifth of the country’s infections have been registered, and less than eight months later life seems to have returned to normal.

The population has generally abandoned social isolation and has assumed the virus as part of their daily lives, encouraged by the denialism of the president, Jair Bolsonaro, and by regional and local governments, which continue with their de-escalation plans and they preach the arrival of a vaccine from December.

The health crisis is stabilized in Brazil, with a slight downward trend, but with still very high figures that translate into a daily average of about 26,000 cases and 660 deaths due to the disease, according to data from the last week collected by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“We are still facing a tragedy and I do not see that it will decrease abruptly, will do it very slowly “, Raquel Stucchi, infectologist at the University of Campinas and consultant for the Brazilian Society of Infectology (SBI), told Efe.

According to the latest Imperial College report, the pathogen’s reproduction rate rose slightly last week and now stands at 0.99, one step away from returning to a rate of 1, when the pandemic is considered to be out of control.

Incidence rate shot up for months

Brazil, with a population of 212 million inhabitants, has an incidence rate of the coronavirus of 2,364 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, which means that transmission is still very high throughout the territory national.

“It is an absurd number of total lack of control of the pandemic and worries that it will translate into a very large intensive care bed occupancy rate “, Stucchi warned.

None of the 27 Brazilian states has a rate of less than 1,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

The mean of the country is one of the highest in America, just behind Panama, Peru and Chile and ahead of the United States; and Europe, only surpassed by Andorra, according to the John Hopkins University.

“It is as expected by the easing of quarantines. The shops are open, the streets and beaches are full, especially on weekends and holidays, and it is to be expected that the number of cases will increase, “said the infectologist Umbeliana Barbosa, from the Emílio Ribas Hospital in Sao Paulo.

Barbosa believes that this high incidence is also due to the fact that Brazil is diagnosing earlier and expanding your ability to perform tests.

However, the data is striking because some European countries, such as Spain and France, with incidence rates of around 1,800 and 1,100 per 100,000 inhabitants, respectively, they have begun to re-impose restrictions to mobility and commerce.

Fewer field hospitals

Meanwhile, Brazil is going in the opposite direction and even many regional and local governments have already deactivated some of the field hospitals that months ago helped prevent collapse of the public health system.

In the city of Sao Paulo, the most populous in the country and which reports about 300,000 infected and 13,000 deaths, it does not have none of the three field hospitals that worked during the last months and that cared for some 11,000 patients in total.

Manaos, capital of the state of Amazonas (north), which came to experience the collapse of its health and funeral system, dismantled its at the end of June, although last week its mayor, Arthur Virgílio Neto, defended adopting the total isolation before the rebound in cases.

In Rio de Janeiro, the regional government planned until the construction of eight, in the end it opened only five and under suspicion of corruption, but has already closed all, and currently only receives patients in one administered by the Mayor’s Office.

In parallel, the rate of bed occupancy intensive therapy for COVID-19 cases has increased in recent days to reach above 70% in the city of Rio.

Rare is the situation in Ceará, whose government reported that the seven field hospitals it set up will continue to stand because “the pandemic is not over yet.”

The two specialists consulted by Efe consider that the closure of field hospitals in these and other regions of the country is justified because hospital pressure has decreased in some areas and the cost of maintenance is too high to have them active in case there is a rebound.

However, Barbosa, who is also a member of the SBI scientific committee, stated that it is necessary to have all “the warning signs. ” The situation “is still worrying,” he added.

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