Brazil coronavirus outbreak speeds up again as cases approach 6 million
By Pedro Fonseca RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil is expected to pass 6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday, as the world's third-worst coronavirus outbreak begins to surge again amid fears that a second wave is underway.
By Pedro Fonseca
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil is expected to pass 6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday, as the world's third-worst coronavirus outbreak begins to surge again amid fears that a second wave is underway.
The South American nation will join the United States and India as the only countries to have passed the 6 million mark. With almost 170,000 confirmed fatalities, Brazil has the world's second highest death toll.
After three months of falling numbers since peaking in late July, infections are increasing again, government data shows.
Many places went into lockdown after the virus first appeared in Brazil in February, but life in the largest cities has largely returned close to pre-pandemic normality in recent weeks, with bars, restaurants and stores full of people, often wearing no masks.
In the last few days, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have registered a surge in hospital admissions of patients with COVID-19. In Rio this week, 90% of the intensive care units in public hospitals were occupied, according to the Rio state health secretary's office.
São Paulo reported an 18% rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations this week and halted the dismantling of ICUs.
According to Imperial College London data released this week, the COVID-19 contagion rate has reached 1.1 in Brazil, after several weeks below the 1 mark that represents a slowdown in contagion.
Brazil hit a peak daily case load of just over 69,000, with around 1,600 deaths, on July 29. By late October the virus appeared to be getting under control, with averages falling off to 20,000 cases and 425 deaths per day.
But this week through Thursday, the average for daily deaths rose to 480 and cases to 26,500.
"The most important sign is that the rolling average of cases has reversed in the last two weeks," said Marcelo Gomes, a public health researcher at the Fiocruz biomedical center.
Gomes said the next few weeks will tell whether Brazil's numbers will settle at a new plateau or whether the country is entering a second wave of contagion as Brazilians go back to their normal lives.
"We are now at risk of a second wave without even leaving the first wave," said epidemiologist Roberto Medronho, at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) medical school.
Medronho said Brazil's federal and state governments were not taking sufficient action. Sao Paulo state announced this week that it would institute unspecified precautions around New Year celebrations but that it had ruled out another lockdown.
"We are definitely not prepared," Medronho said.
(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca, Writing by Anthony Boadle, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.