The number of confirmed Covid-19 infections in Brazil has increased tenfold in just one week—from 90 on March 14 to 986 now. Deaths have amounted to 12.
However, there is evidence that cases are being massively underreported. Despite the virus rapidly spreading within Brazil, the protocol used by the Health Ministry still doesn’t allow hospitals to report Covid-19 cases if the patients have not traveled abroad recently or have not had contact with an individual suspected or confirmed to have been infected with the coronavirus. The Ministry of Health has acknowledged the error and has pledged to correct it as soon as possible.
A federal court has forced the Armed Forces Hospital in Brasília to disclose the list of patients who tested positive for Covid-19. It was in this hospital that President Jair Bolsonaro was tested. He said on social media his results came up negative twice, but has not disclosed them.
Covid-19 has killed 12 people in Brazil so far. The last confirmed victim was a 65-year-old man who had been in the hospital since returning from a trip to Egypt. It was the third death in Rio de Janeiro—all other deaths were recorded in São Paulo.
The jump in the number of infections has prompted state administrations to buy more tests. São Paulo will reportedly procure 20,000 kits, while Ceará will purchase 10,000, and Mato Grosso, 5,000. The Health Ministry has already distributed 18,000 tests to state laboratories and plans to purchase an additional 2.3 million over the next three months.
“We have a simple message to all countries: test, test, test,” said World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press conference in Geneva, calling the pandemic “the defining global health crisis of our time.”
“It is strange that the WHO would make such a recommendation, as there are not enough inputs to test everyone,” said Brazil’s Health Surveillance Secretary Wanderson Kleber de Oliveira.