Virus Outbreak- WHO names Latin America new virus epicenter

Latin America
  • AFP, WASHINGTON

The WHO has declared Latin America “a new epicenter” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Surges in infections across much of Central and South America have driven the global case count to nearly 5.2 million, with more than 337,000 deaths, even as hard-hit Europe and the US cautiously move into a recovery phase.

The death toll in Brazil has passed 20,000, and with 310,000 reported cases, it has the third-biggest caseload in the world.

Photo: AFP

“In a sense, South America has become a new epicenter for the disease,” WHO Health Emergencies Program executive director Mike Ryan said on Friday.

“We’ve seen many South American countries with increasing numbers of cases … but certainly the most affected is Brazil at this point,” he said.

A significant number of deaths in Brazil have been younger people.

“Since Brazil has a younger population, it’s normal for the number of cases to be higher among under-60s,” said Mauro Sanchez, an epidemiologist at the University of Brasilia. “What’s perverse is that a lot of the people who are exposing themselves to the virus are doing it because they don’t have a choice.”

As the toll rises, grave-diggers at a cemetery outside Sao Paulo are scrambling to keep up.

“We’ve been working 12-hour days, burying them one after the other,” said one worker at Vila Formosa, wearing a white protective suit, mask and face shield.

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