Brazil has registered record daily COVID-19 deaths as the coronavirus pandemic overwhelms hospitals and vaccinations progress slowly.
The health ministry reported on Tuesday a daily total of 1,972 new deaths in the country, which has the world’s second-highest overall toll, exceeded only by the United States.
It also reported 70,764 new cases of COVID-19, meaning 11.1 million people have now caught the virus in the country, while at least 268,370 have died.
The previous daily death record was set on March 3 with just over 1,900 fatalities. The figure has been rising steadily over the past two weeks.
Brazil is facing a dire situation with intensive care units more than 80 percent occupied in 25 of Brazil’s 27 state capitals, according to a report released on Tuesday by public health institute Fiocruz.
Last week, President Jair Bolsonaro, who flouts expert advice on fighting the coronavirus, urged Brazilians to “stop whining” about COVID-19 and renewed his attacks on stay-at-home measures.
Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has urged the country to take aggressive steps, warning that Brazil could affect its neighbours and beyond if it did not take the coronavirus seriously.
Brazil’s vaccine campaign is progressing slowly. A total of 8.6 million people (4.1 percent of the population) have received a first dose of vaccine, and only 2.9 million have received a second dose.
The vaccines under use in Brazil are CoronaVac, which was developed by Chinese firm Sinovac, and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.