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Global Times

Expert warns COVID-19 cases in Brazil may surpass those in the US

Global Times

By GT staff reporters Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/31 1:30:41

Brazil may surpass the US to become the world's new hotspot for COVID-19 as the country continues to loosen restrictions on tourism and business and higher transmission rates are expected when the weather cools, warned Chinese experts.

As of Thursday, the country reported 2.55 million COVID-19 cases and 90,134 deaths, both second only to the US, according to Johns Hopkins University. The US reported 4,450,492 confirmed cases with 151,269 deaths.

Despite the deteriorating epidemic situation, Brazil announced it will lift a four-month travel ban on Wednesday, allowing foreign travelers to enter the country via international flights, as part of efforts to boost the tourism industry.

"President Jair Bolsonaro has been struggling to balance between reviving the lockdown-devastated economy and controlling the epidemic, which have affected his approval rating. But the resumption of tourism and business will definitely worsen the current situation," said Xu Shicheng, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Latin American Studies.

Xu believes the country's failure to handle the epidemic is due to Bolsonaro administration, who has hired an active-duty general in the position of the health minister after his two predecessors resigned within a month of each other.

Bolsonaro has called the virus a "measly cold." He tested positive for the coronavirus for a third time in two weeks, his medical team revealed on July 22. During the lockdown, Bolsanaro has attended rallies and shaken hands in public without taking any protective measures, foreign media said.

Yang Zhanqiu, deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, warned that the country might soon overtake the US in the number of COVID-19 cases, as it has entered winter.

"The epidemic might keep deteriorating in the next one or two months as the virus can survive longer at lower temperature and people tend to be less ventilated in confined spaces, giving chances to the virus spread," Yang noted.

Yang also speculated that the virus in Brazil may be a more virulent strain which could be contributing to a surge in new cases.

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