Australia reports deadliest day, Brazil topped 3m virus cases

The number of new cases climbed by 394 (at press time), taking the state’s total to 14,659, says Victoria’s premier

SAO PAULO • Australia had its deadliest day in the coronavirus pandemic, with 17 fatalities in the state of Victoria yesterday.

The number of new cases climbed by 394 (at press time), taking the state’s total to 14,659, Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews said in a media briefing in Melbourne yesterday. Ten of the 17 deaths were related to elderly care centres, he said.

While Australia enjoyed early success in flattening the curve of infections, Victoria is at the centre of a renewed outbreak. The state is experiencing some of the strictest social-distancing measures in the western world, crippling economic activity there and shaking confidence across the nation.

Andrews is facing criticism for lapses in the quarantine system and problems with tracing that allowed the virus to re-emerge and spread. National Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has called on the state government to explain the “serious failures” in quarantine arrangements.

Ten (at press time) new cases were reported for New South Wales, according to the state’s Health Ministry. One is a returned international traveller, seven were locally transmitted and close contacts of known cases, while two are under investigation with no known links, it said.

Meanwhile, Brazil topped three million coronavirus infections as the disease flared up in parts of the country it had spared, spreading misery from the beaches of Bahia to the soybean fields of the vast interior.

The milestone comes less than a month after Brazil hit the two million-case mark and as the disease sweeps into more remote regions where access to healthcare was precarious even before the pandemic. So, even as the virus recedes in some of the locations where it first hit — richer, densely populated urban centres like Sao Paulo — the country’s curve has yet to flatten.

The country reported 49,970 new cases on Saturday and added 905 new deaths, bringing the total fatality count to more than 100,000.

There’s no relief in sight. Cases will likely increase to four million within a month, and the true rate of infection is likely six or seven times the number of positive tests, according to Domingos Alves, the coordinator of the Health Intelligence Department at the University of Sao Paulo.

“The fact we are getting to three million cases and 100,000 deaths at the same time shows the gravity of the pandemic in Brazil,” he said in an interview.

Brazil has recorded over 200,000 infections and 7,000 deaths a week for two months.

“That’s five full Boeing planes falling over our heads a day,” Luiz Henrique Mandetta, the first of two health ministers who departed in the middle of the pandemic after disagreeing with the government’s response, said in an interview last month. “It’s incredibly grave.” — Bloomberg