Wednesday, 15 Jul 2020

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Brazil passes France in virus deaths

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Health Desk June 01, 2020: The number of coronavirus cases worldwide topped six million on Sunday  as Brazil registered another record surge in daily infections and divisions deepened on how to deal with the pandemic.

Latin American countries are bracing for difficult weeks ahead as the virus spreads rapidly across the region.

This contrasts to other parts of the world where the pace has eased and permitted a cautious exit from lockdowns that have wrecked economies and stripped millions of their jobs.

In Brazil -- the epicentre of South America's outbreak with nearly 500,000 confirmed cases -- disagreement among its leaders over lockdown measures has hampered efforts to slow a virus that has cost nearly 30,000 lives.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who fears the economic fallout from stay-at-home orders will be worse than the virus, has berated governors and mayors for imposing what he calls "the tyranny of total quarantine."

Even as his country surpassed France to have the world's fourth-highest death toll, Bolsonaro called for Brazil's football season to resume.

Fellow right-wing populist US President Donald Trump meanwhile came under fire for permanently cutting funding to the World Health Organization.

Trump accused the WHO of not doing enough to curb the early spread of the virus and being too lenient with China, where the Covid-19 disease emerged late last year.

It is a major blow for the UN's health agency -- the US is by far its biggest contributor -- at a time when it needs funding the most.

The European Union called on the US president to reconsider, calling for international solidarity during the crisis.