Rio De Janeiro, July 17 (Reuters) – Brazil on Thursday passed the 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases mark, with little sign that the rate of increase is slowing as anger grows over President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the outbreak.
Just 27 days have passed since Brazil, which has the world’s second-largest outbreak after the United States, reached one million cases. In recent weeks, there have been nearly 40,000 confirmed new cases per day, according to government figures.
By contrast, 43 days passed between 1 million and 2 million confirmed cases in the United States, where the spread of COVID-19 eased briefly in May before accelerating again in June, according to a Reuters tally.
On Thursday, confirmed cases in Brazil totalled 2,012,151, while deaths numbered 76,688.
Brazil, the largest country in Latin America, is home to around 210 million people – roughly two-thirds the size of the U.S. population.
In both countries, contagion has exploded as the virus has gained steam in new areas far from the largest cities. A patchwork of state and city responses has held up poorly in Brazil in the absence of a tightly coordinated policy from the federal government.
Despite the rapid spread of the virus, Bolsonaro, a far-right former army captain, has pressured local governments to lift lockdown restrictions.
Bolsonaro, who tested positive for the virus last week, has played down its health risks and fought against social distancing orders, calling their economic effects worse than the disease itself. Under pressure, many governors and mayors have loosened restrictions in recent weeks, fuelling bigger outbreaks.