GENEVA - A number of states in Brazil are in critical condition and hospitals are overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, World Health Organization epidemiologist Maria van Kerkhove told a briefing on Thursday.
“Indeed there is a very serious situation going on in Brazil right now, where we have a number of states in critical condition,” she said, adding that many hospital intensive care units are more than 90% full.
Brazil, where a more transmissible virus variant is circulating, has become an epicenter of the pandemic. The country currently accounts for about a quarter of COVID-19 daily deaths worldwide, more than any other country, and its vaccination efforts have been hampered by a lack of shots.
Sao Paulo, the country's biggest city, on Thursday sped up efforts to empty old graves, making room for a soaring number of COVID-19 deaths as the city hall registered record daily burials this week.
Relocating remains is standard in cemetery operations, said the municipal secretary responsible for funeral services, in a statement. But it has taken on new urgency as Brazil suffers its worse coronavirus wave since the pandemic began over a year ago.
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has been widely condemned for his handling of the pandemic, from playing down the severity of the disease, to criticizing early efforts to secure vaccines and opposing social distancing measures.
Brazil’s Health Ministry reported 3,769 new COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, narrowly missing a daily record for a third straight day.