Latin America Fatalities on the Rise as Global COVID-19 Death Toll Nears 400,000

Latin America, specifically Brazil and Mexico, are seeing increases in the number of coronavirus-related cases and deaths, as the global death toll nears 400,000.Globally, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases is more than 6.8 million, while the death toll stood at 398,321 Saturday night, Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Research Center reported.The United States is the world’s hardest-hit nation, with more than 109,000 deaths and nearly 1.9 million confirmed cases. On Saturday, it reported 746 coronavirus-related deaths in the previous 24 hours, according to Johns Hopkins.While the U.S. has suffered the largest number of COVID-19-related deaths and confirmed cases, on a per capita basis, several European countries, such as Italy, France and Spain, have a higher death toll.But Latin America has seen an increase in the number of cases and deaths, with the region tallying nearly 1.2 million confirmed cases and more than 60,000 deaths, according to CNN. Tolls are also rising sharply in Mexico, Peru and Ecuador, the French news agency reported, adding in Chile, deaths have risen by more than 50 percent in the past week.On Wednesday, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus People wearing face masks walk past a sign advertising a restaurant in Mexico City, June 5, 2020.On Saturday, Brazil’s Health Ministry removed months of coronavirus data from public view. The ministry also stopped giving a total count of confirmed cases and the death toll.Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro defended the move, saying on Twitter: “The cumulative data … does not reflect the moment the country is in. Other actions are underway to improve the reporting of cases and confirmation of diagnoses.”Bolsonaro has downplayed the dangers of the pandemic and argued against lockdown measures to prevent the virus’ spread.Neither Bolsonaro nor the ministry gave a reason for erasing most of the data on the covid.saude.gov.br website, Reuters news agency reported. The site had been a key public resource for tracking the pandemic. The page was taken down Friday and reloaded Saturday with a fraction of the data, reflecting only deaths, cases and recoveries within the past 24 hours, Reuters reported.Late Saturday, the ministry reported 27,075 new confirmed infections and 904 coronavirus-related deaths since its Friday update, according to the news agency.On Friday, Bolsonaro threatened to pull out of the WHO over “ideological bias,” arguing the lockdowns caused by the coronavirus are worse than the disease itself.A week ago, U.S. President Donald Trump announced he was ending funding and membership in the WHO, after criticizing the agency and accusing it of helping China in a coverup of the coronavirus pandemic. The virus first appeared in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.In Europe, which suffered great losses earlier in the pandemic, countries are slowly reopening. Some countries in the European Union have opened borders to other European visitors. But on Saturday, the European Union said it hopes to open all borders to travelers by early July, at the start of the summer travel season.Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people took to the streets across the United States and in several cities across the globe Saturday, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of an African American man in police custody.Demonstrators, ignoring warnings that mass protests could trigger spikes in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases, rallied over racial injustice and police brutality in cities, including London, New York, Sydney and Minneapolis, where George Floyd died on May 25 after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly 9 minutes. 

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