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Brazil reports a total of 37,312 COVID-19 deaths

SAO PAULO: An effigy of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro hangs from a tree during demonstrations against him and against racism, in Sao Paulo, Brazil amid the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic. — AFP

SAO PAULO: Brazil registered 37,312 total coronavirus deaths while overall cases in the country reached 685,427, according to data from the health ministry on Sunday, amid criticism of the government’s handling of the pandemic. Unlike in the previous day, the government released cumulative figures on Sunday and not a tally of deaths and new infections in the last 24 hours. Based on Sunday’s data, Brazil registered 1,382 new deaths and 12,581 new cases in the last 24 hours. The government changed its format for reporting COVID-19 statistics for the second straight day. Over the weekend it removed from public view months of national data on the epidemic as President Jair Bolsonaro defended delays and changes to official record-keeping of the world’s second-largest coronavirus outbreak. On Saturday Brazil registered 35,930 total coronavirus deaths and 672,846 confirmed cases.

Rival rallies

Meanwhile, Brazilians took to the streets in Sao Paulo and Brasilia for rival demonstrations on Sunday for and against President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been widely criticized over his response to the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds of people banging drums and setting off flares marched through the capital to denounce the far-right president. Demonstrators, many dressed in black and wearing face masks, held banners saying: “Everyone for democracy”, “Against racism and fascism” and “Terrorism is the government’s policy of extermination.” It was the first demonstration against Bolsonaro in Brasilia since the pandemic began. “Get back fascist, get back, popular power is in the streets,” chanted protesters.

Bolsonaro has caused controversy during a long political career, after leaving the army with comments many deemed racist, homophobic or sexist. At the same time, a smaller protest took place in support of Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly tried to downplay the threat of the novel coronavirus. His supporters regularly demonstrate at the weekend in the heart of Brasilia’s government district and have demanded an end to lockdown measures, railing against the Supreme Court and Congress. Bolsonaro often attends the rallies. Police provided a cordon to keep the rival demonstrations apart. Separate protests were also planned in Sao Paulo, including one by football supporters and social organizations to demand “democracy.”

Regional authorities have pleaded with organizers to keep the two apart to avoid clashes. Last weekend, Sao Paulo witnessed its first demonstration against the national government. Supporters of two of the city’s most prestigious football teams – Corinthians and Palmeiras, whose rivalry is one of the fiercest in world football – joined forces “against fascism.” They clashed with Bolsonaro supporters demanding an end to lockdown measures and had to be dispersed by police, who fired tear gas and stun grenades. Tensions are running high in Brazil, which has recorded more than 600,000 coronavirus cases and over 37,000 deaths from COVID-19. Bolsonaro has regularly attacked state authorities over regional lockdown measures and this weekend came under fire for ceasing to report Brazil’s total number of cases and deaths, while also pushing back the daily report of the latest figures by five hours.

Chile coronavirus death

In another development, Chile revised its death toll linked to the novel coronavirus outbreak sharply higher on Sunday, adding fatalities from databases that previously had not been included. Health Minister Jaime M said 653 additional deaths linked to COVID-19 had to be counted, bringing the total number to 2,290. That included 96 new deaths announced in the Sunday daily report. Chile has one of the highest numbers of cases in Latin America, which has become an epicenter of the pandemic even as countries worldwide have begun to reopen. Brazil, Peru and Mexico have also been hard hit by the virus.

He said that databases on deceased persons certified by the civil registry had been reviewed and along with information from laboratories doing PCR tests for the virus had been consolidated into a single list. “This is an adjustment we have to make and report, a commitment to legitimacy, especially when we’ve made a huge effort to search additional databases for information not present in the databases that we were using before,” he said. In recent weeks, some think tanks, media and scientists have criticized how the government was counting deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, arguing the real number may be higher. — Agencies

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