Brazil records its worst daily death toll from coronavirus
Sao Paulo, Brazil(CNN)Brazil has recorded its highest daily number of coronavirus deaths and cases, one day after it became the country with the third-highest number of confirmed cases in the world.
The Latin American country confirmed a record of 1,179 deaths and 17,408 new infections on Tuesday, its health ministry announced Tuesday, raising overall deaths since the start of the outbreak to 17,971, and 271,628 cases.
Sao Paulo state alone reported a record number of deaths on Tuesday, with 324 deaths in the past 24 hours.
When asked about Brazil's skyrocketing numbers, US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he was mulling on a travel ban on Brazil.
"We are considering it," Trump said, adding: "We hope that we're not going to have a problem. The governor of Florida is doing very, very well testing -- in particular Florida, because a big majority come in to Florida. Brazil has gone more or less herd, and they're having problems.
"I worry about everything, I don't want people coming in here and infecting our people," Trump said, "I don't want people over there sick either."
Health system on the brink
Brazil's alarming numbers come days after Sao Paulo's mayor warned that its health system could be overwhelmed very soon if residents don't follow social distancing guidelines. Officials in the major city of 12 million have declared a five-day holiday in a bid to get residents to stay home.
"The city is coming to the limit of options," Bruno Covas told journalists Sunday, warning that nine in 10 intensive care beds were full. "We need to decide if we want to test the limits, or if we will be prudent and firmly maintain social isolation for the time needed so that the health system doesn't collapse. We are closer than we would like."
By Monday, Brazil achieved the grim record of having the third-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world, behind the United States and Russia.
Yet Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro continues to dismiss the threat of the virus, saying quarantines and lockdowns could have a worse impact on Brazil's economy.
He has repeatedly dismissed Covid-19 as a "little flu" and urged businesses to reopen, even as many governors scramble to implement social isolation measures and slow the spread.
The country lost its second health minister in a month last week. Nelson Teich stepped down after clashing with Bolsonaro over the country's coronavirus strategy. In April, Bolsonaro fired his predecessor, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, after a prolonged standoff.
Despite the political crisis, the populist leader has touted chloroquine as a potential wonder drug against the new coronavirus -- like his US counterpart Trump.
Teich clashed with Bolsonaro over the use of malaria drugs to treat the virus and social isolation measures.
This week, Bolsonaro said his interim health minister, army general Eduardo Pazuelo, would issue new guidelines on Wednesday to expand the use of the anti-malaria drug to treat even mild cases of Covid-19, Agence France-Presse reported.
It follows Trump's claim on Monday that he is taking daily doses of hydroxychloroquine, even though medical experts, the US Food and Drug Administration, and at least one study have questioned its efficacy and warn of potentially harmful side effects.
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