(AFP) — Brazil registered 1,179 coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said Tuesday, as the pandemic exacted its worst daily toll yet in the hardest-hit Latin American country.
The overall death toll in Brazil now stands at 17,971, the ministry said. This was the first time the daily toll exceeded 1,000.
New infections in the past 24 hours totalled 17,408, bringing the total to 271,628.
If the upward trend is confirmed in coming days, Brazil will see an acceleration of its chapter of the pandemic. Experts say the peak there is not expected until early June.
Public health experts also say the government figures may grossly understate the death and infection tolls — perhaps by as many as 15 times — because Brazil carries out very little coronavirus testing.
On Monday Brazil jumped from sixth to third place in the world in number of known infections, behind only the US and Russia.
Right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro is in open conflict with most of the country’s 27 state governors as he plays down the virus and presses for the end of lockdown measures to rescue Latin America’s largest economy, which is now forecast to be headed for deep recession.