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Disastrous leadership compounds Brazil's coronavirus catastrophe

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The 20-something countries of Latin America have now become the epicentre of the life-threatening coronavirus. On top of that, the region is mostly poor, dotted with crumbling public health systems, and has incredibly entrenched social inequalities.

Mexico, Peru and Chile are all witnessing huge surges in the number of COVID-19 infections — overwhelming already stressed intensive care units. The total death toll from these three countries has now exceeded 25,000, if that is indeed the true mortality figure.

Equally troubling, this devastating outbreak in the southern hemisphere increases the likelihood that the pathogen will make its presence felt in the north in a second instalment in the fall.

But as the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned, the most worrisome development is the runaway outbreak in Brazil, the most populous country in the region. It is second only to the United States in terms of total coronavirus deaths and cases (surpassing an alarming one million) — adding thousands of new infections daily. One COVID-19 model projects a stunning death toll of 125,000 by August.

Not surprisingly, there are widespread claims of insufficient testing in the country (especially in rural areas), acute shortages of personal protective........

© The Guardian

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