Brazil overtook Russia Friday as the country with the second-highest number of coronavirus infections worldwide behind the United States, as the Americas emerged as a new epicenter of the pandemic.
Brazil recorded 1,001 daily coronavirus deaths on Friday, taking total deaths to 21,048, according to the Health Ministry.
The surge came as the World Health Organization declared South America “a new epicenter” of the pandemic.
“Clearly there is a concern across many of those countries, but clearly the most affected is Brazil at this point,” said WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan.
Brazil’s death toll is currently the sixth-highest in the world, behind the United States, Britain, Italy, Spain and France.
But the crisis is not expected to peak in Brazil until June.
The country of 210 million people has had a disjointed response to the pandemic.
In Sao Paulo, the worst hit city, aerial video showed rows of open plots at the Formosa Cemetery as it rushed to keep up with demand.
Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has been widely criticized for his handling of the outbreak and is at the center too of a deepening political crisis.
Since the outbreak began, Bolsonaro has lost two health ministers, after pressuring them to promote the early use of anti-malarial drugs like chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine. Several high-profile public health experts have also left. Many have been replaced by soldiers.