Brazil Becomes The Second Country To Surpass 1 Million Coronavirus Cases

Shoppers wearing face masks walk in a crowded street in the Madureira neighborhood amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on June 17, 2020 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Andre Coelho / Getty Images

On Friday, Brazil became the second country in the world to surpass 1 million cases of the novel coronavirus, according to John Hopkins University. The only other country to reach more than 1 million cases is the United States, which currently has over 2.2 million cases of the virus. Brazil and the U.S. lead the worldwide case count by a vast amount. The country with the third most cases in the world, Russia, currently has 568,292 cases.

According to Reuters, Brazil reported 1,032,913 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday, with a daily total of 54,771 new cases. This is the highest reported daily case count in the country since the beginning of the outbreak in February. Brazil also reported that its death toll from COVID-19 has risen to 48,954.

However, some medical experts have warned that these numbers don’t represent the true size of the outbreak in the South American nation, Reuters reported. Some of these experts have said that a lack of testing makes it impossible to understand the real number of cases. One medical professor from São Paulo State University said “there is under-reporting of a magnitude of five to 10 times.” He estimated that the real case count is “probably at least 3 million and could even be as high as 10 million people.”

Brazil has been less than forthcoming regarding their case counts. Earlier this month, the country took down the website where it was reporting the number of confirmed cases. When the site was relaunched, it only included 24-hour totals and did not reveal monthly or all-time numbers. Many accused Brazilian officials of purposely trying to conceal the extent of its outbreak.

Per Reuters, Brazil’s President Jair Messias Bolsonaro has been dismissive about the seriousness of the pandemic and the need for social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. Bolsonaro has said he believes social distancing will kill Brazil’s economy and that it would do more damage to the country than the virus itself.

The president has also fired two health ministers since April because of disagreements over the pandemic, Reuters reported. The country is still without a health minister.

Though the number of confirmed cases and deaths from the virus are skyrocketing, many local officials have started to lift restrictions that had been put in place to control the spread, according to Reuters. Restrictions were not imposed in an organized fashion nationwide and were left up to local governments. The measures did little to dampen the spread of the virus. Facing both public pressure and pressure from the country’s president, many local Brazilian officials have opted to return to normal life.

Projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) predict that Brazil will have over 165,000 deaths from COVID-19 by the beginning of August. The projections also show that Brazil’s death toll from COVID-19 will surpass the United States’ death toll sometime in July.