GENEVA (Reuters) – The coronavirus crisis in Brazil appears to be leveling off, if not easing, the World Health Organization said on Friday, offering a chink of light for the world’s second biggest COVID-19 hot spot.
The number of weekly infections detected have stabilized, transmissions are slowing, and intensive care units are under less pressure, Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergency expert, told a news conference in Geneva.
“In general, the trend in Brazil is stable or downwards … and that needs to keep going,” Ryan said.
“There is a clear downward trend in many parts of Brazil. The question is, is this a lull? Can this be continued?”
The latest figures show that Brazil has recorded more than 3.5 million cases of the new coronavirus and more than 112,000 deaths related to the virus. Both are the second highest totals in the world, behind only the United States.
President Jair Bolsonaro has come under heavy criticism at home and abroad for his handling of the crisis. He has dismissed the virus as nothing more than a “little flu”, frequently appears in public without a mask, and when asked by one journalist about the soaring death toll, said “So what?”
Ryan urged caution, however. Brazil is a huge country and many parts of it are still seeing increases in the number of cases, while the number of daily cases is still around 50,000-60,000 and the death toll still over 1,000 on most days, he said.
There is still much to do in Brazil, he said.
But large countries like Brazil, India, and the United States getting the disease under control will go a long way to reducing the pandemic globally.
“Any success in Brazil is a success for the world,” Ryan said.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Writing by Jamie McGeever; Editing by Marguerita Choy)