Brazil surpassed Russia on Friday in the number of cases of the new coronavirus after registering 20,803 new infections in one day and became the second country in the world most affected by the pandemic.

The number of cases in Brazil today reached 330,890, ranking only behind the United States, which has more than 1.5 million infections, according to the balance disclosed by the Ministry of Health and reflecting the increasing progress of disease in the country.

The Latin American giant reached 21,048 deaths, after registering 1,001 new deaths compared to the previous day, a number slightly lower than the record of 1,188 recorded on Thursday.

However, according to various studies, the actual number of cases could be up to 15 times higher due to the high underreporting in the country, which is struggling for hours to expand the capacity of the laboratories.

The most affected state so far is Sao Paulo, a region where 46 million people live and which has registered 76,871 cases and 5,773 deaths, which represents almost 30% of all deaths in the country.

In number of deaths, behind Sao Paulo, is Rio de Janeiro (3,657), whose homonymous capital has a fatality rate for COVID-19 of 12.7%, almost double the national average of 6.5%, as reported by the state-owned Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) with data from the Ministry of Health.

Despite the fact that the majority of cases are concentrated in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the World Health Organization today expressed its concern about the situation in the vast Amazon region of the country (north), whose hospital infrastructure is deficient, and in Pernambuco. (northeast).

The worsening of the crisis in Brazil has contributed precisely so that South America “is becoming the new global epicenter of the pandemic,” said the director of the Emergency Program of the World Health Organization (WHO), Mike Ryan. .

“We see many South American countries that have an increasing number of cases and there is great concern in these countries, but the most affected is Brazil,” said the senior official in charge of the international fight against COVID-19 at a virtual press conference.

WHO IS CHALLENGING CHLOROQUINE

Two days after Brazil approved the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of patients with mild symptoms of COVID-19, the WHO also expressed its suspicion about the use of the treatment, considering that there is no scientific evidence that it is a safe and effective medicine against this disease.

“The clinical evidence does not support the use of this drug and it is not recommended at least until clear clinical trial results are available,” Ryan noted.

He added that the investigations of the WHO regional office for the Americas, known as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), have not reached conclusions that would recommend it either.

The WHO position came on the same day that a large observational study was published suggesting that antimalarial drug treatment is associated with increased mortality rates and increased cardiac arrhythmias among COVID patients. 19 hospitalized.

The study, published in The Lancet, analyzed data from nearly 15,000 patients with COVID-19 who received chloroquine or its analog, hydroxychloroquine (ingested with or without the antibiotics azithromycin or clarithromycin), and data from 81,000 patients in more than 600 hospitals.

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