Just over six months after registering its first case of the new coronavirus, Brazil crossed the grim threshold of 120,000 people killed by Covid-19 on Saturday, with no end in sight to the crisis.
The country of 212 million people has now registered 120,262 deaths from the virus and 3,846,153 infections, the health ministry said in its daily update.
Brazil is just the second country to surpass a death toll of 120,000 in the pandemic, after the United States, where the number killed is now more than 182,000.
Unlike in Europe and Asia, where the virus hit hard and then subsided, Brazil's outbreak is advancing at a slow but devastating pace, said Christovam Barcellos, a researcher at public health institute Fiocruz.
Brazil is unique in the world. Since the start of the pandemic, its curve has been different from other countries', much slower
It has stabilised now, but at a very dangerous level: nearly 1,000 deaths and 40,000 cases per day.... And Brazil still isn't past the peak.
Brazil confirmed its first case of the virus on Feb 26, a Sao Paulo businessman returning from a trip to Italy. It recorded its first death on March 16. The pandemic soon turned political in Latin America's largest country.
President Jair Bolsonaro condemned the hysteria around the virus, and attacked governors and mayors who imposed lockdown measures, arguing the economic damage would be worse than the disease itself.
The far-right leader has instead pushed the drug hydroxychloroquine as the solution to the health crisis, despite studies showing it is ineffective against Covid-19.
He again said Saturday the controversial medication had saved thousands of victims' lives in Brazil. Bolsonaro even took what he called the right-wing drug himself when he was diagnosed with the virus in July.
Experts widely agree the lack of a cohesive message from Brazil's leaders is responsible for the country's failure to flatten the curve.
It's terrible. There's been a total lack of coordination by the federal government, which unfortunately is another characteristic of the pandemic in Brazil, said Barcellos.
The virus has meanwhile spread from the first demographic it infected - wealthy travelers returning from abroad - to more vulnerable groups and to the interior of the country.
Impoverished residents of overcrowded favelas, or slums, in cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have been hit especially hard. So have indigenous groups in the Amazon rainforest, who have a history of vulnerability to outside diseases.
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