WHO urges Brazil to act as COVID deaths hit record high

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By Daniel Bellamy  with AP
WHO urges Brazil to act as COVID deaths hit record high
Copyright  AP Photo/Andre Penner

The World Health Organization has urged Brazil to take "serious measures" to rein in the surging numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths, a move that would relieve its overburdened health system.

"We are deeply concerned," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference, pointing out that "not just the number of cases, but the number of deaths is also increasing".

"The measures that should be taken should be as serious as possible," he added.

His comments came after Brazil earlier this week registered a grim new record of more than 2,000 COVID deaths in 24 hours.

"Unless serious measures are taken, the upward trend, which is now flooding the health system ... will result in more deaths," Tedros warned.

The WHO has repeatedly voiced alarm about the outbreak in Brazil, which is the second hardest-hit country after the United States, and has logged over 273,000 deaths and 22.3 million cases.

Tedros warned on Friday that the dire situation in Brazil risked causing a deterioration in conditions elsewhere.

"If the situation in Brazil continues to be serious like this, then the neighbouring countries will be affected... It could go even beyond," he said.

Tedros also called for "clear messages from the authorities" on the situation and the measures needed.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who contracted the virus himself last year, last week urged Brazilians to "stop whining" about COVID-19 and renewed his attacks on stay-at-home measures.

Health experts say the surge in Brazil is being fuelled by new, more contagious variants of the virus, including one known as P1, which is believed to have emerged in Brazil, in or around the Amazon rainforest city of Manaus.