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Brazil daily virus deaths again top 1,000

Published May 27,2020
Relatives are seen during a mass burial of people who passed away due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Parque Taruma cemetery in Manaus, Brazil, May 26, 2020. (REUTERS Photo)

Brazil reported 1,039 deaths in 24 hours from the new coronavirus Tuesday, the fourth time its daily toll has passed 1,000 since the pandemic accelerated in the country a week ago.

Latin America's largest country, a new epicenter in the pandemic, has now confirmed a total of 24,512 deaths, according to health ministry figures.

Experts say under-testing means the real number is probably much higher.

With a population of 210 million people, Brazil has recorded 391,222 infections, a number second only to the United States.

The country is torn over how to respond to the pandemic.

Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has downplayed the virus and railed against stay-at-home measures, arguing the economic fallout risks causing more damage than the virus itself.

But most state governments have stuck to the World Health Organization's guidance and closed non-essential businesses.

Bolsonaro has meanwhile pinned his hopes on the medication hydroxychloroquine, that -- like US President Donald Trump -- he has touted as a potential wonder drug against COVID-19.

Brazil's health ministry recommends doctors in the public health system prescribe hydroxychloroquine or a related drug, chloroquine, from the onset of COVID-19 symptoms.

It said Monday it stood by that guideline, despite the WHO ending clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine over concerns about its safety and effectiveness against the coronavirus.