Hospitals, morgues and cemeteries across Brazil are being overwhelmed by coronavirus cases as Latin America’s largest nation veers closer to becoming one of the world’s pandemic hot spots.

Medical officials in Rio de Janeiro and at least four other major cities have warned that their hospital systems are on the verge of collapse, or already too overwhelmed to take any more patients.

Health experts expect the number of infections in the country of 211 million people will be much higher than what has been reported because of insufficient, delayed testing.

Meanwhile, President Jair Bolsonaro has shown no sign of wavering from his insistence that COVID-19 is a relatively minor disease and that broad social-distancing measures are not needed to stop it.

He has said only Brazilians at high risk should be isolated.

In Manaus, the biggest city in the Amazon, officials said a cemetery has been forced to dig mass graves because there have been so many deaths. Workers have been burying 100 corpses a day — triple the pre-virus average of burials.

So far, the health ministry has confirmed nearly 53,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 3,600 deaths.

By official counts, the country had its worst day yet on Thursday with about 3,700 new cases and more than 400 deaths, and Friday was nearly as grim.

Experts warned that paltry testing means the true number of infections is likely to be far greater.

Because it can take a long time for tests to be processed, the current numbers actually reflect deaths that happened one or two weeks ago, said Domingos Alves, adjunct professor of social medicine at the University of Sao Paulo, who is involved in the project.

“We are looking at a photo of the past,” Mr Alves said in an interview last week.

Source : ABC News

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