Brazil hits 100,000-case mark for the first time

cases coronavirus 100,000 brazil
Hospital in Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Ale Silva/Shutterstock

The outlook for the pandemic continues to worsen in Brazil, and the country has just hit a new record for daily cases. Health officials across the country reported 100,158 new confirmed infections over the past 24 hours.

While daily totals can fluctuate, seven-day averages offer a better picture of the pandemic’s development. And this same measurement broke records on Thursday, with an average of 77,050 new cases every day this past week. 

Unlike what happened early on in the pandemic, we are not seeing just a few densely-populated areas driving the surge. Instead, most Brazilian states saw their daily case tallies increase over the past few weeks.

Further metrics underscore the severity of the health crisis, called by experts “the single worst in Brazilian history.” Hospitalization data shows that multiple state-level health networks have reached (or are close to reaching) a point of collapse. In the federal capital of Brasília, the area with the highest human development index in the country, nearly 400 people are on a waiting list to be treated in intensive care units.

Nationwide, nearly 6,400 Brazilians wait for a hospital bed.

Vaccination efforts have sped up as of late, with a reported 530,988 people receiving jabs on Thursday. In the two months since the first vaccines were administered, daily averages were half that total. The Health Ministry now tells cities and states to use all of their stocks set aside for second doses to get as many needles in arms as possible. That could potentially push daily vaccination averages up by 30 percent.

The immunization bottlenecks and the uncontrolled virus spread have forced local administrations to enact tighter restrictions on non-essential businesses. While deemed necessary by health experts, lockdown-like measures will further the economic crisis and also cause a devastating human toll.

A survey by NGO Unified Center of Favelas (Cufa) shows how a mix of high unemployment and the lack of potent cash-transfer programs to offset a loss of revenue have enhanced food insecurity in Brazil. Data shows that seven in ten favela residents don’t have enough money for their basic food needs. In August 2020, the daily average of meals per family was 2.4. Now, it stands at 1.9.

Earlier in the day, President Jair Bolsonaro blamed the economic woes on isolation measures — which he opposes.