By Pedro Fonseca
RIO DE JANEIRO, July 1 – Brazil surpassed 60,000 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, the Ministry of Health said, citing a recent wave of contamination in Southern and Midwestern areas of the country.
A total of 1,038 additional deaths were registered in the past 24 hours, taking the overall number of fatalities to 60,632, the ministry said, updating the 60,610 tally disclosed earlier on Wednesday to add data from Rio Grande do Sul state.
Total confirmed cases were revised to 1,448,753 from 1,447,523, marking a daily rise of 46,712 from Tuesday and making Brazil the country with the second worst outbreak in the world behind the United States.
“There is an increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 in almost all states in both the Midwest and the South that, until two or three weeks ago, had a small number of cases,” Eduardo Marques Macário, a senior health official, told journalists in a press conference.
The number of deaths in the South and the Midwest regions grew by 37% and 36%, respectively, in the epidemiological week ended last Saturday, the ministry added, in contrast to setbacks seen in the North and Southeast and a trend of stability in the Northeast.
In the South, the worsening scenario comes after states such as Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina were the first to lift social distancing measures.
Sao Paulo state remains the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil, with over 15,000 deaths and almost 290,000 confirmed cases, according to the Health Ministry. (Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; Writing by Gabriela Mello; Editing by Sandra Maler and Richard Chang)