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Brazilian authorities welcome a “downward” curve for coronavirus-related deaths, but experts remain cautious. On Thursday, the second most affected country in the world exceeded four million cases of contamination and regional disparities are strong.

The Brazil exceeded the threshold of 4 million cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, September 3, but the daily death toll is finally starting to drop slightly, while more than 124,000 people have already lost their lives.

After several months of interminable plateau with more than 1,000 new deaths recorded almost every day, the second most affected country in the world after the United States seems to finally see the end of the tunnel. As of Thursday, the country had 4,041,638 confirmed cases, 43,773 more than the day before, and 124,614 deaths (+834). The Ministry of Health believes that these figures already indicate a curve “down”, but specialists remain cautious.

“This is the start of what we hope to be a downward trend, but it is still very recent and very timid,” Mauro Sanchez, epidemiologist at the University of Brasilia, told AFP. For this trend to be confirmed, he said the decline should continue for two or three weeks.

Regional disparities

Not to mention the fact that in a country of 212 million inhabitants with continental dimensions, national figures cannot account for regional disparities, with “27 different epidemics”, one per State, underlines Mauro Sanchez.

“In the last two months, we have seen a curve that mixes regions where deaths and contaminations are on the rise (such as the South or the Center-West) and others where the figures are on the decline (the North, the North -est, the cities of Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo) “, adds Paulo Lotufo, professor of epidemiology at the University of Sao Paulo.

The two specialists recognize that it is possible to foresee an improvement, but fear that the figures will start to rise again in the event of precipitous deconfinement.

Carnival under threat

Rio’s beaches were packed last weekend, with hundreds of people without face shields. Business reopening has started gradually since June in most states, and local authorities are now exploring the possibility of resuming classes at schools, which have been closed since March.

Rio City Hall has already announced that it will not organize the traditional New Year’s festivities that normally bring together several million people on the famous Copacabana beach.

The carnival parades, which take place in February each year, are also expected to be postponed, with most samba schools having already announced that it was unthinkable to think about them before the discovery of a vaccine against Covid-19.

The future vaccine not mandatory

Brazil’s GDP fell 9.7% in the second quarter, although a smaller drop than in other Latin American countries, due in particular to a massive government aid program to support the economy during the pandemic.

Allowances have been made to 66.4 million Brazilians, almost a third of the population, especially the poorest who depend on the informal economy. A measure that has greatly contributed to the sharp resurgence in popularity of President Bolsonaro, despite his chaotic management of the pandemic.

Speaking in a live chat with his supporters via Facebook, the latter stressed that vaccines against Covid-19 would not be mandatory when they are available. “Many people want the vaccine to be applied in a coercive manner, but there is no legal basis for it,” said the far-right leader, who has regularly downplayed the dangerousness of the virus.

With AFP and Reuters

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