Brazil reported its highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in a single day amid worsening health system and spluttered vaccination rollout.
Some 1,641 people died from COVID-19 on Tuesday, according to Health Ministry data, surpassing the previous single-day high of 1,595 deaths recorded in late July 2020.
More than 257,000 people have died of the disease in Brazil, making it the deadliest outbreak in the world after the United States.
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed Brazil’s hospital system to the brink of collapse, and state governors are now joining together to buy vaccines and bypass the federal government, which has been slow to roll out its vaccine programme.
Several cities and states last week began imposing a new round of restrictions in bid to avoid overwhelming their already stretched hospitals.
Meanwhile, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly attacked restrictive measures and face masks.
He had also threatened to cut funding to cities and states that adopt stricter lockdowns.
Roughly 10.6 million people of the country’s 212 million population have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to the Health Ministry.
Brazil began its vaccination programme in mid-January, but behind schedule on a government pledge of immunising the entire population by the end of the year.
Only 3 percent of the country’s population has been vaccinated, according to the latest official statistics.
Experts have warned that if Brazil is unable to control the spread of the COVID-19, it could become the epicentre of the mutation of the virus, which could potentially be more infectious and lethal.
The coronavirus variant that was first identified in Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon towards the end of last year triggered a renewed wave of cases that left the city’s hospitals without oxygen in January.
Research is currently under way to test the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines against the variant, which has prompted countries to close their borders to people travelling from Brazil.