Brazil reached a grim milestone on Saturday, recording 500,000 coronavirus deaths since the start of the pandemic.
“500 thousand lives lost by the pandemic that affects our Brazil and the whole world,” the country’s Minister of Health Marcelo Queiroga confirmed on Twitter. "I work tirelessly to vaccinate all Brazilians in the shortest time possible and change this scenario that has plagued us for over a year.”
500 mil vidas perdidas pela pandemia que afeta o nosso Brasil e todo o mundo.Trabalho incansavelmente para vacinar todos os brasileiros no menor tempo possível e mudar esse cenário que nos assola há mais de um ano.— Marcelo Queiroga (@mqueiroga2) June 19, 2021
According to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 case tracker, the number of new cases has been on the upswing, hitting over 98,000 cased over the course of 24 hours Friday.
The number of daily new COVID-19 cases have remained high — between 70,000 and 98,000 within the last few days. The country confirmed about 82,000 cases on Saturday.
Amid an increase in cases, Brazil is lagging in inoculations against COVID-19. The country's government reported that around 11 percent of its people have been fully vaccinated, according to The Associated Press.
The AP also reported that anti-government demonstrators protested in the streets on Saturday criticizing President Jair Bolsonaro for not doing more to protect the country during the pandemic.
Bolsonaro has downplayed the severity of the pandemic, calling the disease a "little flu" last year. The president has also resisted mitigation methods and pushed drugs that have not proven to be effective in combatting the disease such as chloroquine, according to The Guardian.
The news also comes as the country hosts a prestigious soccer tournament, which could further complicate the ability to keep Brazilians from catching the virus. The country is already nearing close to 18 million total confirmed cases.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers Brazil to be at level 4 or "very high" in its COVID-19 levels and has advised Americans to avoid traveling to the country.