Brazil jumps to world No 2 in coronavirus cases, behind the US

COVID-19 deaths in Brazil double in 12 days

This means that it is not known how big the pandemic is in Brazil and that the cost of government inaction both in human lives in the short term and in the difficulty it will have to recover from the economic crisis that will affect the whole region will be enormous.

New infections in the previous 24 hours totaled 17,408, bringing the total to 271,628, the third-highest in the world after the U.S. and Russian Federation.

His handling of the outbreak, including calls for state governors to lift the blockade, sparked criticism and led to the resignation of Health Minister Nelson Teich last week. Luiz Henrique Mandetta was dismissed earlier last month after clashing with the president over the use of hydroxychloroquine and social distancing measures.

However, Bolsonaro focused his efforts on reducing the impact of the epidemic on the economy, which was supported by many people. Supporters organized rallies against the blockade, and the president also participated in some of them.

The outbreak has overwhelmed hospitals in Brazil's hot spots, specifically São Paulo, the country's most populous state.

"There is still no scientific evidence, but it is being monitored and used in Brazil and worldwide", Bolsonaro, who has likened the virus to a "little flu" and feuded with local governments over their stay-at-home measures, said via his official Facebook page. "We have seen many South American countries with increasing numbers of cases", Ryan told a virtual news conference.

Bruno Covas, the mayor of Sao Paulo, Brazil, warned that Sao Paulo's health system may collapse within two weeks.

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On Thursday, interim Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said that while the level of infection had decreased in certain areas in capital cities, its spread across the rest of the country was "inevitable".

As of Monday, the country's Health Ministry has processed almost 338,000 COVID-19 tests.

It is not only the city center that was severely affected by the epidemic.

Brazilian President Bolsonaro has always opposed the blockade, arguing that it will harm the national economy.

Bolsonaro referred to the "scorched earth" policy of closing businesses and schools and restricting public transportation.

"The more tools we use, the better", said Miguel Domingo, a 49-year-old architect taking his two dogs for a walk in Madrid, which is emerging from one of the world's toughest lockdowns.

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