BRAZIL has become the second country in the world to hit one million coronavirus cases after infections rose by 54,000 in just one day.
The South American country also recorded more than 1,200 deaths for the fourth consecutive day as the total fatality count neared 49,000.
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Hundreds of new graves were dug in the Vila Formosa cemetery in Sao Paulo[/caption]
Gravediggers of the Vila Formosa cemetery exhume old graves to open new spaces for people killed by coronavirus[/caption]
Infections have soared in Brazil over the past month after first surpassing 100,00 coronavirus cases on May 3.
And some experts fear the real infection number could be as many as 10 million due to Brazil’s lack of testing and the government’s flippant attitude to the virus.
It comes after the US became the first country to break one million cases on April 27.
Russia is third the worldwide totals with 576,952 cases, with India fourth at 396,661 and the UK in fifth in 301,815.
Brazil’s grim milestone came just days after Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) Director Carissa Etienne said Brazil was a major concern.
And World Health Organisation director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned the pandemic was now entering a “new and dangerous” stage.
He warned cases were rising fast at the same time that governments were beginning to ease their lockdowns – as fears loom worldwide of a potential second wave.
Brazil – which has a population of 211million – is also heading into its winter, which can worsen respiratory illnesses like Covid-19.
President Jair Bolsonaro had insisted the virus was “just a little flu” and consistently downplayed the threat from the pandemic.
His country is now paying the price, but his regime continues to claim that everything is under control despite the soaring numbers.
Walter Braga Netto, the head of the office of the Brazilian president’s chief of staff, said: “There is a crisis, we sympathize with bereaved families, but it is managed.”
Aerial view from a drone of workers burying victims of the Covid-19 pandemic in Sao Paulo[/caption]
Burials at the Vila Formosa cemetery in Sao Paulo as Brazil surpassed 1million cases[/caption]
Mr Braga Netto also boasted Brazil’s deaths-per-million-people figure was better than that of Belgium, Spain, Britain, Italy and France.
He said he was trying to “convey a message of optimism in the management of the crisis”.
Alexandre Naime Barbosa, a medical professor at Sao Paulo State University, said Brazil’s figures may be even higher, reports Sky News.
He said: “That number of one million is much less than the real number of people who have been infected, because there is under-reporting of a magnitude of five to 10 times.
“The true number is probably at least three million and could even be as high as 10 million people
Gravediggers in Brazil’s largest cemetery in Sao Paulo have been exhuming burial plots to make room for coronavirus victims.
PAHO director Ms Etienne gave a dire assessment of Brazil’s handling of the pandemic.
She said: “We are not seeing transmission slowing down.”
The health body has recommended Brazil and other countries in South America increase their social distancing and urge them to slow down the eagerness to ease lockdown measures.
Mr Bolsonaro has consistently opposed any many anti-virus measures, and many of places in the country are already starting reopen despite the march of the virus.
WHO warned at the end of last month that South America has emerged as the new epicentre of the pandemic which originated in China.
Brazil confirmed its first case of coronavirus on February 26, but the government consistently resisted measures to try and control the virus.
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Mr Bolsonaro refused has refused to wear a mask or practice social distancing, and has promoted anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as remedies.
There is little evidence either of these work – despite also being championed by US President Donald Trump.
Brazil also remains without a permanent health minister after two were sacked by Mr Bolsonaro due to clashes over the virus.
And the country’s economy is in free fall, with some forecasts predicting a retraction of up to 6 per cent.