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Coronavirus: Brazil's deaths overtake UK's, as Latin-America, India and Africa are the new hotspots

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Migrant workers from other states rest on a pavement as they wait for trains to their home states in Hyderabad, India
Migrant workers from other states rest on a pavement as they wait for trains to their home states in Hyderabad, India   -   Copyright  AP Photos
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As the COVID-19 pandemic loosens its grip on Europe, other parts of the world are fighting to control outbreaks.

Brazil, Mexico and India all saw one-day infection records last week.

Africa, says the World Health Organization (WHO), has seen 100,000 infections in such 18 days. South Africa is particularly affected.

India now has more COVID-19 cases than the UK

India’s coronavirus caseload become the fourth-highest in the world on Friday, overtaking the UK after adding 10,956 new cases in yet another biggest single-day spike.

The increase came after India allowed the reopening of shops, shopping malls, factories and religious places on June 8, after imposing a nationwide lockdown in late March.

Metro stations, schools and theatres remain closed.

India’s has around 300,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 8,400 deaths from the disease.

Mumbai, New Delhi and Chennai are the worst-hit cities.

New Delhi's health centres are reported to be under immense strain and the state is preparing for a worst-case scenario in which the number of infections in the capital — already at nearly 35,000 — could reach 550,000 by the end of July.

Africa's pace of infection 'quickening'

Africa has recorded around 200,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 5,600 deaths, the WHO reported on Thursday.

It said it took 98 days for Africa to reach 100,000 infections and just 18 to hit 200,000.

Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Sudan account for more than 70% of Africa's COVID-19 deaths, while 10 out of 54 countries account for nearly 80% of all cases.

"South Africa is the most affected, accounting for 25% of the continent’s total cases", the WHO said.

Africa's COVID-19 transmission is mainly concentrated in capital cities, but it is spreading now into the provinces too.

“For now Africa still only accounts for a small fraction of cases worldwide,” WHO's regional director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said, “But the pace of the spread is quickening."

"Swift and early action by African countries have helped to keep numbers low but constant vigilance is needed to stop COVID-19 from overwhelming health facilities.”

In recent weeks, countries began relaxing lockdowns to resume some economic and social activities.

Numbers have remained relatively low in some West African countries, like Sierra Leone and Liberia.

"They learned from the Ebola outbreak and moved quickly when they decided their economy couldn't cope with community transmission,” Clare Wenham, global health policy associate professor at the London School of Economics, noted.

Latin America, Brazil reopens shops amid worrying figures

Latin America has been defined "the new epicentre of the pandemic".

Brazil is by far the worst-affected nation in the region and only second to the US globally, as it recorded over 828,000 cases and nearly 42,000 deaths.

This did not stop Brazil from reopening shops in its two biggest cities this week — Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, which had almost 10,000 and at least 7,000 deaths respectively — after two months of confinement.

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro was condemned for playing down the impact of the pandemic initially, and the government attracted more criticism recently for the decision to stop publishing comprehensive COVID-19 figures.

In Mexico, Latin America's second country per number of deaths, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador urged the nation to stay calm after officials last week reported escalating fatalities that rivalled those in Brazil or in the US.

“Let there not be psychosis, let there not be fear,” López Obrador said while accusing the media of fanning concerns of an escalating crisis.

Peru and Ecuador were two other countries badly hit.

On the contrary, countries that cracked down early and hard on the pandemic, like El Salvador — which is Central America's most densely populated country — and Panama, have done relatively well.

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