Brazil, the new epicentre of the coronavirus

Graves of people who died in the past 30 days fill a new section of the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery, amid the new coronavirus pandemic in Manaus, Brazil, Monday, May 11, 2020. The new section was opened last month to cope with a sudden surge in deaths. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

With more than 270,000 confirmed cases, and a record high of 1,179 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, Brazil has become the new epicentre of the virus.

Brazil passed Italy and Spain on the list of countries with the most coronavirus cases last weekend. Then it passed the United Kingdom on Monday afternoon. Only Russia and the United States have more. But researchers have said that a lack of testing means Brazil’s count is likely far higher than official figures suggest. 

In Coronavirus Versus Brazil, Bolsonaro Stands Almost Alone
Brazil’s right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro  has been accused of downplaying the seriousness of the virus (Photo: Forbes.com)

A common factor among the three most hard hit countries- Brazil, Russia, and the United States is the approach of their leaders towards the pandemic.

The hard-right leaders have downplayed the severity of the crisis and embraced outlandish conspiracy theories.

“Brazil went into this with a number of challenges that have been exacerbated by the government response at the very top,” Anya Prusa, a senior associate at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute in Washington said. “It is a disaster. And it didn’t need to be a disaster of this size.”

And to top it all off, as Brazil face this new height of the pandemic, it has no health minister. The the oncologist who previously held the position quit last Friday, just 28 days into his tenure.