The global death toll from the coronavirus disease has passed the 400,000 mark yesterday, 7 June, according to a tally from the Agence France-Presse. The grim milestone was reached after recording 400,052 deaths – a number that has doubled in a mere month and a half.
Nearly half of the deaths have been logged in Europe, with 183,428 fatalities. The United States, however, remains the worst-hit country both in confirmed cases at 1,920,061 and deaths at 109,802. Next on the list of countries with high death tolls are the United Kingdom with 40,542 and Brazil with 35,930.
A sharp increase in deaths in Brazil has drawn attention to Latin America as the new focal point of the pandemic, with the World Health Organisation calling the region the new virus epicentre last month.
Data from Brazil, however, remain mired in controversy. The country’s health ministry on Friday took down running totals of infections and deaths and replaced it only with figures for the past 24 hours.
Regional health officials have criticised the administration of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro for the move, which “renders invisible” the victims of the disease.
“From a health point of view, we are witnessing a tragedy… not informing signifies the state is more harmful than the virus,” said former health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, whom Bolsonaro sacked back in April.
Bolsonaro has been critical of the response to the virus, saying that its danger has been overstated. The Brazilian president has prioritised keeping the economy open and lambasted local officials who have implemented lockdowns and stay-at-home orders.