Brazil, one of the world's emerging coronavirus hot spots, registered a record number of cases and deaths on Wednesday, prompting the health minister to flag the possibility of strict lockdowns in particularly hard-hit areas.
According to health ministry data, the nation registered 10,503 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, well above the previous record of 7,288 cases on Apr 30. Brazil also registered 615 deaths, up from the previous record of 600 on Tuesday.
There are over 100,000 completed coronavirus tests that still have not been registered in the national database, Wanderson Oliveira, a health ministry deputy secretary warned, meaning the number of cases could continue to rise steeply in the coming days.
Overall, Brazil has registered 125,218 cases and 8,536 deaths due to the virus. New cases rose roughly 9.2% over the last 24 hours, while deaths increased roughly 7.8%.
Health Minister Nelson Teich told a press conference an increasing number of local authorities may have to institute lockdowns, as the coronavirus growth curve does not appear to be flattening.
While authorities have ordered non-essential services and businesses closed in most states, residents are still allowed to circulate. A lockdown, which so far has only been implemented in the city of Sao Luis in the country's northeast, prohibits people from leaving their homes except for certain necessary activities.
Still, Teich said, some areas of the country that had not borne the brunt of the pandemic may be able to consider gradually opening up. As part of Brazil's bid to combat the coronavirus outbreak, officials said on Wednesday they were attempting to dramatically ramp up testing capacity, which stands at 2,700 tests per day.
”At the most elevated level of (test) production, which we think we'll get to in the middle of July, we'll get to 70,000 per day,” Oliveira said.