Brazil’s daily death toll from the new coronavirus has jumped to a record 1179 as US President Donald Trump said he is considering imposing a ban on travel from Brazil.
The highest daily toll before Tuesday had been 881 deaths on May 12. The pandemic has killed at least 17,971 people in Brazil, according to the Health Ministry.
But health experts believe that, due to a lack of testing, the real number of infections is much higher.
They also suspect that at least twice as many people have died from the virus; with state hospitals at struggling with the burden, an increasing number of COVID-19 victims are dying in their homes.
Brazil overtook Britain on Monday to become the country with the third-highest number of confirmed infections, behind Russia and the United States.
Brazil’s confirmed cases also jumped by a record 17,408 on Tuesday, for a total of 271,628 people who have tested positive for the virus.
The spike comes amid warnings from Brazil’s former health minister that three difficult months lie ahead.
President Jair Bolsonaro, an ideological ally of Mr Trump, has been widely criticised for his handling of the outbreak, such as opposition to restrictions on movement he sees as too damaging to the economy.
Mr Bolsanaro has ignored social distancing rules and demanded gyms, hair salons and other businesses reopen.
Mr Bolsonaro said interim health minister Eduardo Pazuello would issue new guidelines on Wednesday expanding the recommended use of the anti-malarial drug chloroquine to treat the coronavirus.
Health Minister Nelson Teich quit on Friday under pressure to sign the guidelines, making him the second trained doctor to leave the post in a month.
In an interview posted to the website Blog do Magno, Mr Bolsonaro said Mr Pazuello, an active duty army general who had been Dr Teich’s deputy, would sign the new chloroquine guidelines and keep the top job for now.
Mr Bolsonaro added that his mother is 93 years old, and he keeps a box of chloroquine on hand should she need it.
Trump says he’s considering a ban on travel from Brazil after it became the third country with the most cases of coronavirus pic.twitter.com/WWF2RedYgy
— Bloomberg QuickTake (@QuickTake) May 19, 2020
Mr Trump, who announced on Monday (local time) he was taking chloroquine as a preventative measure, told reporters on Tuesday: “I don’t want people coming over here and infecting our people.
“I don’t want people over there sick either. We’re helping Brazil with ventilators … Brazil is having some trouble, no question about it.”