Brazil's daily Covid death toll hits record 4,249

Brazil’s daily Covid death toll hits a record 4,249 as senate opens inquiry into President Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic while he urges people not to ‘cry over spilled milk’

  • Brazil recorded 4,249 Covid deaths in the last 24 hours, a new one-day record 
  • Country’s death total now stands at 345,025, the second-highest in the world 
  • But President Bolsonaro played down the risks, insisting that ‘people die everywhere’ and there is no use ‘crying over spilled milk’ 
  • He hit out even as senate opened an inquiry into his handling of the pandemic 

Brazil has recorded its largest one-day death toll of the Covid pandemic so far after 4,249 people perished from the disease in just 24 hours on Thursday. 

The figure tops the country’s previous one-day record, set just 48 hours earlier, which was 4,195. It brings the country’s death total to 345,025 – the second-highest in the world, after the US. 

Brazil also logged 86,652 new cases Thursday, the second-highest one-day toll anywhere in the world after India, bringing its overall case-load to almost 13.2million.

Even as the crisis escalates, President Bolsonaro continued to play down the risks – insisting that ‘people die everywhere’, there is no use ‘crying over spilled milk’ and hitting out at state leaders for tightening lockdowns.

In response, Brazil’s senate has opened an inquiry into his handling of the pandemic including whether the government was responsible for oxygen running out in hospitals in Amazoas state in January which has been blamed for dozens of deaths.

Brazil recorded 4,249 deaths from Covid in the last 24 hours – a new one-day record that topped the 4,195 deaths recorded just 48 hours earlier

Brazil is suffering through a massive second wave of virus driven by a new and potentially more-lethal variant of the disease that first emerged in the Amazon 

The leader of the Brazilian senate had been resisting the move, but his hand was forced after a judge ruled the inquiry should go ahead.

In another blow to Bolsonaro, judges also ruled Thursday that religious services can be banned by regional leaders to stop the spread of infection – something the president said infringed the right of freedom to religion.

Bolsonaro has continued to play down risks from the virus, even as the senate opened an inquiry into his handling of the pandemic

In a nine-to-two ruling, the judges found that freedom of religion was not being obstructed by stopping face-to-face services because people can pray at home.

‘If we want to pray, we pray at home,’ said the head of the court Marco Aurelio Mello.

Judge Edson Fachin pointed to the out-of-control nature of the country’s Covid-19 outbreak.

‘Every second that passes without people staying in their homes, the pandemic grows. The hospitals cannot treat everybody. Faced with their imminent collapse, we cannot tolerate more risk,’ he said. 

Brazil’s public healthcare system has shown growing signs of buckling under the caseload, and a survey by the National Association of Private Hospitals (ANAHP) this week suggests even the richest hospitals are running short on critical medicine.

Three out of four private hospitals said they have a week or less of supplies for treating COVID-19, including oxygen, anesthesia and essential drugs for intubation, according to the ANAHP survey of 88 member hospitals across the country. 

Bolsonaro’s government has played down the risk of the country’s hospitals running out of medicine, as the right-wing leader tries to allay fears of the virus, while railing against state and local efforts to restrict movement.

‘Let’s not cry over spilled milk. We’re still going through a pandemic that, in part, is being used politically – not to defeat the virus but to bring down the president,’ Bolsonaro said in a public address on Wednesday. 

‘In what country on earth do people not die? Unfortunately, people die everywhere.’

More than 345,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil, making it the second-deadliest outbreak after the United States, which has seen more than half a million deaths but whose population is about 50 per cent greater. 

As Brazil suffers the worst of the pandemic, the country has become a testing ground for new vaccines.

Brazilian health regulator Anvisa on Thursday approved the fifth late-stage trial for a COVID-19 vaccine in the country, greenlighting a study by Canada’s Medicago R&D Inc and GlaxoSmithKline PLC.

Anvisa said the companies were authorized to conduct phase 3 trials in the country. The companies are recruiting around 3,500 volunteers in Brazil for the study, which will include some 30,000 people, in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Latin America.

Patients are treated on a Covid ward at a hospital in Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil, as they wait to be tested for the virus

Data shows that three out of four of Brazil’s private hospitals – some of the country’s wealthiest – are now just a week away from running out of key medicines

Covid patients are treated in the municipal hospital of Sao Joao de Meriti, Rio de Janeiro state

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