Fortaleza exceeds São Paulo with most cases per 1 million people

As the states of Goias, Amazonas, Pernambuco, and Rio Grande do Sul have reported Covid-19 deaths, all five of Brazil’s macroregions now have at least one fatal victim of the novel coronavirus. And while São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro — Brazil’s two largest metropolitan areas — concentrate the bulk of cases, the city of Fortaleza in the Northeast has leapfrogged them both to lead in cases per 1 million people.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said the government is already monitoring the situation in the state of Ceará, of which Fortaleza is the capital. Mr. Mandetta said it remains uncertain whether the increase in the number of infections per 1 million inhabitants is related to a well-oiled health system more capable of testing patients than other regions, or if “something different is happening” in the northeastern state.

The case of Rio Branco, the fourth-least-populated state capital (out of 27), is also noteworthy. The city had its first infection on March 17 — and in less than 10 days rose to the state capital with the third-highest infection rate in the country.