Brazil surpasses Russia with second-highest coronavirus case count in the world

Brazil surpasses Russia with second-highest coronavirus case count in the world
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Brazil has surpassed Russia as the country with the second-highest reported coronavirus cases in the world on Friday, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Saturday, the largest country in Latin America has recorded 347,398 cases of the virus and 22,013 deaths from the disease, trailing only the U.S., which has recorded 1.6 million confirmed cases of the virus and 96,983 deaths from the disease. 

Russia, which is now has the third most confirmed coronavirus cases, has reported 335,882 infections and 3,388 deaths. 

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Brazil has seen a steady increase in cases in the past few weeks.

On Friday, Mike Ryan, the emergencies director of the World Health Organization (WHO) called South America "a new epicenter" of the coronavirus, showing specific concern for Brazil.

"In a sense, South America has become a new epicenter for the disease. We have seen many South American countries with increasing numbers of cases," Ryan said at a virtual news conference.

"Clearly there is a concern across many of those countries, but clearly the most affected is Brazil at this point," he said.

Brazil’s death toll has doubled in just 11 days, according to data from the country’s health ministry.

"The majority of the cases are from the Sao Paulo region," Ryan said.

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Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, in the past has dismissed the virus as a "little flu", and has encouraged businesses in the country to reopen despite contradictory orders from local leaders to stay at home.

He has also disputed the expertise of his own public health officials, going as far as dismissing his former health minister in April.

Bolsonaro, a conservative politician who is a close ally of President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE, had a close brush with virus himself after his press secretary tested positive for the virus in March following his return from a trip the U.S.

The trip was also the first coronavirus scare for President Trump, who hosted the Brazilian delegation at his Mar-a-Lago club in south Florida.