The Worst Of The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Still To Come
While coronavirus infection rates are gradually falling in large parts of Europe and parts of the United States, allowing people to return to what appears to be a normal life, the pandemic is continuing to increase in other regions of the world.
"Although the situation in Europe is improving, it is deteriorating worldwide," said World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier this month.
The situation is particularly bad in Latin America, which has become the new epicenter of the pandemic and where scientists say that the peak of infections is still weeks away.
Nations that have managed to control the spread of the virus may have started to worry about a second wave as they relax the restrictions on blocking. In Latin America, however, the WHO made it clear that the first phase of the pandemic has not yet been completed.
The situation in Brazil is particularly worrying, said Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan-American Health Organization, this week. With nearly 1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and nearly 50,000 deaths, the country is one of the most affected nations in the world, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
As the largest country in Latin America, Brazil is responsible for around a quarter of the region's 4 million coronavirus cases and around a quarter of deaths - and the infection rate is increasing.
A recent analysis by the COVID-19 Brazil Group, an initiative that brings together scientists from Brazilian universities and research centers, and Johns Hopkins University showed that Brazil has the highest growth rate of confirmed cases worldwide.
"We are the only country in the world where the number of cases and deaths is increasing," Domingos Alves, member of the COVID-19 Brazil group, told HuffPost Brazil.
"Brazil is the only country that accelerates."
Cemetery workers in protective suits shovel soil in the Vila Formosa cemetery in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo: Image Alliance via Getty Images)
In São Paulo, Brazil's largest metropolis, authorities recently announced plans to excavate cemeteries and store the remains in large metal containers to make room for new coronavirus victims.
However, getting a clear picture of the situation in Brazil was challenging due to the widespread underreporting of cases. For example, the test rate in the United States was 37,188 tests per 1 million population. In Brazil, the rate was only 8,737 per million people.
The Brazilian government has also been accused of attempting to cover up the deadly effects of the pandemic after the Ministry of Health removed months of data from a website that was tracking COVID-19 earlier this month.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has long downplayed the dangers of the pandemic, replaced medical officials in the Ministry of Health with military officials, spoken out against government bans to fight the virus and hampered the country's response to public health.
Other countries have decided to lift the restrictions, although the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase.
"We have to get closer to the new normal because the economy and human well-being depend on it," said Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador earlier this month.
On Thursday, the Mexican Department of Health reported a record 5,662 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 667 additional deaths, increasing the country's total to 165,455 and 19,747 deaths. The government has indicated that the actual number of people infected is likely to be significantly higher than the confirmed number.
India is also easing lockdown across the country despite an escalating number of cases.
On Thursday, the Indian Ministry of Health reported a record increase in the number of coronavirus cases, which rose to almost 400,000.
A worker paints beds to be used on March 30 in a railway hospital in Chennai, India, to house coronavirus patients. (Photo: P. Ravikumar / Reuters)
Hospitals in New Delhi no longer have beds and some patients have been rejected due to lack of space.
“On June 1st, we downloaded the report, which found that our father-in-law was COVID positive. This was when our ordeal started, ”Mandeep Singh wrote in HuffPost India.
“Even though they promised, Ganga Ram Hospital didn't contact us. When we tried to call them to find out what to do next, no one answered these calls.
“In frustration, we turned to the other hospitals that we knew were taking COVID patients. We called Max, Apollo, AIIMS and Safdurjung - all hospitals told us not to come because they had no beds. "
Patients were left unattended in state hospital corridors. Local media reports of corpses in a hospital lobby prompted the Supreme Court to order state administration to band together.
On Sunday, the federal government announced that it would provide the New Delhi city authorities with 500 railroad cars equipped to treat coronavirus patients to address the shortage of hospital beds.
A study released this week suggested that the peak of the outbreak could come in November and that India's ICU ventilators and beds are likely to be deficient.
"I don't think we expected the cases to increase so much," a lawmaker from the Aam Aadmi party, which runs the capital, told Reuters. "We were so confident."
With reports from HuffPost Brazil, HuffPost India and Reuters.
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