Brazil virus toll surges, Pope address after 3 months

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by Valeria Pacheco with AFP bureaus

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro defiantly rallied with his supporters Sunday as the country’s coronavirus death toll surged to world’s fourth highest, and global fatalities hit 370,000.

More than one million cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in Latin America and the Caribbean, around half of them in Brazil, according to an AFP tally, as the region emerged as a worsening hotspot.

The world has moving at varying speeds to lift lockdowns that have wrecked economies and stripped millions of their jobs, and on Sunday many Muslims in Jerusalem and other cities flocked to newly reopened mosques.

Brazil has become the epicenter of South America’s outbreak with almost 500,000 confirmed cases and nearly 28,000 deaths.

Bolsonaro, wearing no face mask, met a tightly packed throng of supporters outside the government palace in the capital Brasilia as crowd chanted “myth! myth! myth!” — echoing his dismissal of the virus threat.

He picked up children and put them on his shoulders, and briefly mounted a police horse, while in the city of Sao Paulo his supporters fought with pro-democracy demonstrators.

Chile said Sunday it had hit 1,000 deaths after a sudden increase in the last two weeks, making it one of the countries most affected by the pandemic in Latin America.

Peru has recorded 4,500 deaths, while Bolivia is set to lift containment measures on Monday — but four of the country’s nine regions said they would defy the order and extend the restrictions.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis prayed for the Amazon’s “particularly vulnerable” indigenous people on Sunday in his first address to the faithful on Saint Peter’s square in nearly three months.

The pope earlier said that “everything will be different” after the pandemic.

“From the great trials of humanity — among them this pandemic — one emerges better or worse. You don’t emerge the same,” he said. (AFP)

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