Mar 10, 2021 - World

Hospitals at breaking point as Brazil hits new COVID death record

A field hospital for Covid-19 infected patients at the Pedro Dell'Antonia sports complex in Santo Andre, Brazil, on Monday, Feb. 22

A field hospital for patients infected with COVID-19, Santo Andre, Brazil, in February. Photo: Jonne Roriz/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Brazil is facing "overload and even collapse of health systems" because of surging COVID-19 cases, a report by the state-run Fiocruz institute warned Tuesday, as the country set a new daily coronavirus death record.

Driving the news: The institute said over 80% of intensive care unit beds are occupied in 25 of Brazil's 26 state capitals. In Rio de Janeiro, 93% of ICU beds are occupied and Brasília has only 3% available. The cities of Campo Grande (106%) and Porto Alegre (102%) have exceeded capacity.

  • Brazil's Health Ministry on Tuesday reported 1,972 more deaths from the coronavirus and 70,764 new cases.

For the record: The country has recorded the second-highest number of deaths (268,370) from the coronavirus after the U.S. (527,643), according to Johns Hopkins data.

  • It has reported the third-highest number of cases in the world — over 11.1 million since the pandemic began.

What they're saying: Fiocruz epidemiologist Jesem Orellana told AFP the "fight against COVID-19 was lost in 2020" and there's "not the slightest chance of reversing this tragic circumstance" in the first half of this year.

  • "The best we can do is hope for the miracle of mass vaccination or a radical change in the management of the pandemic," he added.
  • "Today, Brazil is a threat to humanity and an open-air laboratory where impunity in management seems to be the rule."

Of note: President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly downplayed the virus, said last week Brazilians should stop "whining" about the pandemic and leave home, despite stay-at-home orders imposed by local authorities, per Reuters.

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