Brazil surpassed four million coronavirus cases on Thursday, as an international panel looking into the global response to the pandemic vowed to uncover how it was able to spread worldwide.
“This is a strong panel poised to ask the hard questions,” said former Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, co-chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR), which will rake over the heavily criticized World Health Organization-led response.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International said more than 7,000 health care workers have died of the virus worldwide, including more than 1,300 in Mexico alone, the most for any country.
The virus continued to disrupt the world of sport and entertainment, with filming of the new Batman movie halted in Britain because its star Robert Pattinson reportedly tested positive for the disease.
French football team Paris Saint-German said three more of its squad had been infected, a day after Neymar and two teammates were diagnosed, and Argentine football giants Boca Juniors said 18 of its players had tested positive just two weeks before restarting their Copa Libertadores campaign.
Brazil topped four million cases with 124,600 deaths, second only to the United States.
There were almost 44,000 new cases over the previous 24 hours alone, and 834 fatalities. However, some experts saw a silver lining in the statistics — Brazil could be on the verge of improvement.
“In the last two months, we have seen a curve that mixes regions that are increasing, with others that are decreasing,” said Paulo Lotufo, professor of epidemiology at the University of Sao Paulo, pointing to spikes in the south and center-west, while cases were falling in the major cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, as well as in the north.
But experts warned the situation could suddenly worsen again if local and regional governments give in to pressure from business groups to reopen the economy too soon, and if social distancing measures are abandoned.
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