Brazil passes Italy and Spain in confirmed coronavirus cases

Sunday, 2020-05-17 11:20:29
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Nurses of Emergency Rescue Service transport a patient from a basic heath unit to a hospital during the COVID-19 outbreak in Santo Andre, Sao Paulo State, Brazil, May 7, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)
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Brazil's confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus rose on Saturday (May 16) past those of Spain and Italy, which was once the epicenter of the pandemic, making Brazil's outbreak the fourth largest in the world, according to official figures.

Brazil's Health Ministry registered 14,919 new confirmed cases in the prior 24 hours, taking the total to 233,142, behind the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom. Brazil has done just a fraction of the testing seen in those three countries.

The global distinction is likely to pile pressure on President Jair Bolsonaro, who lost his second health minister in a month on May 15 as he defies public health experts and calls for widespread use of unproven drugs.

Nationwide testing in Brazil still lags far behind European nations. Brazil had processed nearly 338,000 novel coronavirus tests in official labs by the beginning of the week, according to the Health Ministry.

Another 145,000 tests were under analysis or waiting in line.

By contrast, Italy and Spain have each run some 1.9 million official diagnostic tests for the virus.

Brazil's Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 816 new deaths related to the virus, bringing the total to 15,633.