Deaths have overtaken births in at least 10 Brazilian cities in recent months amid the country’s raging coronavirus crisis and slow vaccination effort, according to data from the country’s national civil register.
Figures from March reveal that in Rio de Janeiro, the second most populous city, at least 36,437 people died, compared to 32,060 registered births.
Other cities recorded similar data. CNN reported Tuesday that at least 10 other major metropolitan areas across the country had logged more deaths than births during the last six months.
Brazil recorded more than 4,100 daily deaths for the first time on April 7, and hospitals across the country warned that they were at a breaking point and struggling to treat sick patients.
In recent weeks, health experts have warned that the highly transmissible P.1 variant is “impossible to stop” and is rapidly becoming a “superspreader event” that the entire world will have to work to contain.
After the United States, Brazil has recorded the second-highest number of covid-19 deaths, with more than 361,000 lives lost to the virus since the pandemic began. At least 1,300 babies have died of the virus in the country — despite experts and other countries citing data that covid-19 rarely kills young people.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has long been criticized over his handling of the pandemic. He has, since last year, dismissed the severity of the virus and pressed for schools, churches and shops to remain open despite the escalating crisis and concerns from local officials.
The president, who has refused to implement a national lockdown like many other countries, has used briefings to warn Brazilians that the media was spreading “hysteria” regarding the pandemic, and he has referred to the coronavirus as “a little cold.” More than a year ago, he told the country that the crisis would “pass shortly.”