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.
“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.
Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.