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COVID-19: Brazil becomes third highest in global case toll

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TWENTY-FOUR hours after Brazil rose to become fourth COVID-19 worst-hit nation, it today becomes the third-highest novel coronavirus endemic country in the world.

   According to official figures, a troubling surge that saw Brazil recording 254,220 confirmed cases shot it ahead of Britain, Spain and Italy in the past 72 hours on the list of total infections, and is behind only the United States (1.5 million) and Russia (290,000).

Brazil has registered 16,792 COVID-19 deaths, the sixth-highest toll in the world.

But experts say under-testing means the real figures could be 15 times higher or more.

The giant South American country of 210 million people is torn by a political battle over how to respond to the virus.

President Jair Bolsonaro compares the virus to a “little flu,” condemns the “hysteria” surrounding it and is urging the country to get back to work to stop an economic crash.

State and local authorities, however, are largely calling on citizens to stay home and practice social distancing — backed by the Supreme Court, which gave them the final say in the matter.

Bolsonaro is now seeking his third health minister since the pandemic began.

He fired the first after publicly battling over stay-at-home measures, and the second resigned last week after less than a month on the job, reportedly over the president’s insistence on widespread use of the controversial and unproven malaria drug chloroquine to treat the disease.

Hospitals in several areas are meanwhile operating close to full capacity, and the hardest-hit cities have begun burying victims in mass graves, even as the number of infections continues to soar.

Meanwhile, Nigeria has recorded 216 new cases of the novel coronavirus to bring the country’s total confirmed cases to 6175.

Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed this late night yesterday in a tweet via its official handle.

According to the post, 74 new cases were found in Lagos, 33 in Katsina, 19 in Oyo, and 17 in Kano.

Other states with new cases include Edo with 13, Zamfara 10, the trio of Ogun, Gombe and Borno with eight each, the duo of Bauchi and Kwara with seven each, the FCT with four, Kaduna and Enugu with three each and Rivers state with two new cases.

NCDC also reported that 1,644 cases have now been successfully treated and discharged, while 191 persons have died.

Earlier on Monday, the federal government chose not to further lift lockdown measures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, said in a briefing in Abuja that federal government will maintain restrictions such as the closure of schools, airports and religious centres for another two weeks.

“The reality is that in spite of the modest progress made, Nigeria is not yet ready for full opening of the economy and tough decisions have to be taken for the good of the greater majority. Any relaxation will only portend grave danger for our populace. Advisedly, the current phase of eased restriction will be maintained for another two weeks during which stricter enforcement and persuasion measures will be pursued,” he said.

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 316,333 people worldwide since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by World Health Organisation (WHO.

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