May 21, 2020 - World

Latin America surpasses U.S. and Europe in new daily coronavirus cases

The Intensive Care Unit treating COVID-19 coronavirus patients in the Gilberto Novaes Hospital in Manaus, Brazil, on May 20

The Intensive Care Unit treating coronavirus patients in the Gilberto Novaes Hospital in Manaus, Brazil, on Wednesday. Photo: Michael Dantas/AFP via Getty Images

Latin America has overtaken the U.S. and Europe for the largest number of new daily novel coronavirus cases this week, per Reuters.

Why it matters: The outbreak in Latin America, and Brazil in particular, significantly contributed to global infection numbers surpassing 5 million early on Thursday. The surge in cases indicates a shift in the spread of COVID-19 from the original epicenter of China to Europe and the U.S.

By the numbers: "Latin America accounted for around a third of the 91,000 cases reported earlier this week," Reuters notes. "Europe and the United States each accounted for just over 20%. ... Cases in Brazil are now rising at a daily pace second only to the United States."

  • Brazil has the third highest number of coronavirus cases in the world. More than 291,500 people have tested positive for the virus, which has killed over 18,500 as of Thursday morning, Johns Hopkins data shows.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization announced on Wednesday there have been 106,000 cases reported to the WHO in the past 24 hours — the most in a single day since the outbreak began.

  • Roughly two-thirds of the new cases were concentrated in four countries, Axios' Marisa Fernandez notes.
  • Among them is Brazil, recorded 1,179 more deaths from the virus on Tuesday — its highest death toll in 24 hours. However, the country's health department said that most deaths had occurred outside of the past 24 hours.
  • Coronavirus deaths in São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil and the Western Hemisphere, have increased by over 485% since the city's health department began keeping track in April, Axios' Orion Rummler reports.

The big picture: Peru has the second-highest contagion rate in Latin America. It has reported over 104,000 cases and more than 3,000 deaths despite being one of the earliest countries in the region to introduce lockdown measures, on March 16. The country's most impoverished communities have been hit hardest, the Guardian reports.

  • Mexico has confirmed more than 56,500 infections and over 6,000 deaths. Cases are surging, but NPR notes President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced the country would reopen for business this week.
  • Ecuador has reported over 34,800 cases and more than 2,800 deaths. Some rural communities in the country have been left without doctors, who transferred to cities when the outbreak began, Reuters reports.
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