The Brazilian Ministry of Health on Thursday reported 37,614 new COVID-19 cases with 691 more deaths, raising the national count to 6,204,220 with 171,460 deaths.
Brazil has the world's second-highest COVID-19 death toll, after the United States, and the third largest caseload, next to the United States and India.
After seeing a decline in daily deaths and cases since September, the Latin American country has witnessed a rise in both categories in November, accompanied by an increase in hospital occupancy in large cities.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's second largest city, has seen occupancy rates at both public and private hospitals top 90 percent. Local authorities are considering reopening field hospitals to deal with the overflow of patients.
Tens of thousands of fans, many weeping but eager to honor Diego Maradona, filed past the coffin of Argentina’s most iconic soccer star on Thursday, some confronting police who tried to maintain order at the country’s presidential mansion.
Fans blew kisses as they passed Maradona’s wooden casket in the main lobby of the presidential Casa Rosada, some strike their chests with closed fists and shouting, “Let’s go Diego.”
The casket was covered in an Argentine flag and the No. 10 shirt he famously wore the national team. Dozens of other shirts of different soccer teams tossed in by weeping visitors were scattered on and around the casket, reports AP.
Maradona died on Wednesday of a heart attack in a house outside Buenos Aires where he had been recovering from a a brain operation on Nov. 3.
Open visitation, started at 6:15 a.m. after a few hours of privacy for family and close friends. The first to bid farewell were his daughters and close family members. His ex-wife Claudia Villafañe came with Maradona’s daughters Dalma and Gianinna. Later came Verónica Ojeda, also his ex-wife, with their son Dieguito Fernando.
Jana, who Maradona recognized as his daughter only a few years ago, also attended the funeral.
Then came former teammates of the 1986 World Cup-winning squad including Oscar Ruggeri. Other Argentine footballers, such as Boca Juniors’ Carlos Tévez, showed up, too.
Some fans grew impatient as police tried to maintain order, throwing bottles and pieces of metal fencing at police outside the presidential offices in the heart of Buenos Aires. Officers at one point used tear gas to try to control them.
Shortly before noon Argentina President Alberto Fernández arrived and placed on the casket a shirt of Argentinos Juniors, Maradona’s first club as a professional.
In tears, Fernández also laid two handkerchiefs of the human rights organization Madres de Plaza de Mayo, who wore them for years to protest the disappearance of their children under the Argentina’s military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983.
Maradona, an outspoken leftist who had an image of Argentine Revolutionary Che Guevara tattooed on one bicep, was a friend of the Madres and of other human rights organizations.
The lines started forming outside the Casa Rosada only hours after Maradona’s death was confirmed and grew to several blocks. Among those present were the renowned barrabravas fans of Boca Juniors, one of his former clubs.
The first fan to visit was Nahuel de Lima, 30, using crutches to move because of a disability.
“He made Argentina be recognized all over the world, who speaks of Maradona also speaks of Argentina,” de Lima told The Associated Press. “Diego is the people.... Today the shirts, the political flags don’t matter. We came to say goodbye to a great that gave us a lot of joy.”
Maradona’s soccer genius, personal struggles and plain-spoken personality resonated deeply with Argentines.
He led an underdog team to glory in the 1986 World Cup, winning the title after scoring two astonishing goals in a semifinal match against England, thrilling a country that felt humiliated by its loss against the British in the recent Falklands war and that was still recovering from the brutal military dictatorship.
Many deeply sympathized with the struggles of a man who rose from poverty to fame and wealth and fell into abuse of drug, drink and food. He remained idolized in the soccer-mad nation as the “Pibe de Oro” or “Golden Boy.”
Lidia and Estela Villalba cried near the exit of the lobby. Both had a Boca Juniors shirt and an Argentinian flag on their shoulders.
“We told him we love him, that he was the greatest,” they said at the same time.
Those waiting for enter the Casa Rosada were mostly wearing masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they struggled to keep social distancing.
Social worker Rosa Noemí Monje, 63, said she and others overseeing health protocols understood the emotion of the moment.
“It is impossible to ask them to distance. We behave respectfully and offer them sanitizer and face masks,” she said. Monje also paid her last tribute to Maradona.
“I told him: to victory always, Diego,” Monje said as she wept.
A huge mural of Maradona’a face was painted on the tiles that cover the Plaza de Mayo, near the Casa Rosada, which was decorated with a giant black ribbon at the entrance.
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro again tested positive for the novel coronavirus, said the president's office on Wednesday.
Following his third positive test, taken on Tuesday, the office in Brasilia issued a statement saying the head of state was nevertheless "in good condition."
"President Jair Bolsonaro continues to be in good condition, accompanied by the presidency's medical team. The test taken by the president yesterday, (July) 21, resulted positive," said the statement.
On July 7, Bolsonaro announced he tested positive for the coronavirus after presenting a fever and malaise, and he has been working from his residence ever since, attending no public events.
He tested positive again last week.
Bolsonaro, 65, falls within the demographic considered to be at risk of suffering from COVID-19 complications.
Brazil on Wednesday saw a record 67,860 new cases of COVID-19 in the past day, bringing its total caseload to 2,227,514.
According to the Health Ministry, the new one-day record by far eclipsed the previous one set on June 16 of 45,241 new cases.
The country's COVID-19 death toll rose to 82,771 after 1,284 more patients died in the same 24-hour period.
Another 3,795 deaths are suspected of being related to COVID-19 but have not been verified, the ministry said.
Brazil has the world's second-largest COVID-19 outbreak, after the United States, in both the number of cases and the death toll.
Southeast Sao Paulo state, Brazil's most heavily populated state, is the epicenter of the national outbreak.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been known to mingle in crowds without covering his face, has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the coronavirus's severity.
He said he is taking hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malaria drug that has not been proven effective against COVID-19.
The 65-year-old populist confirmed the results while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters huddled close in front of him in the capital, Brasilia.
“I'm, well, normal. I even want to take a walk around here, but I can't due to medical recommendations,” Bolsonaro said. “I thought I had it before, given my very dynamic activity. I’m president and on the combat lines. I like to be in the middle of the people.”
Brazil, the world's sixth-biggest nation, with more than 210 million people, is one of the outbreak's most lethal hot spots.
More than 65,000 Brazilians have died from COVID-19, and over 1.5 million have been infected.
Both numbers are the world’s second-highest totals, behind those of the U.S., though the true figures are believed to be higher because of a lack of widespread testing.
Bolsonaro has often appeared in public to shake hands with supporters and mingle with crowds, at times without a mask. He has said that his history as an athlete would protect him from the virus and that it would be nothing more than a “little flu” if he were to contract it.
He has also repeatedly said that there is no way to prevent 70% of the population falling ill with COVID-19 and that local authorities' efforts to shut down economic activity would ultimately cause more hardship than allowing the virus to run its course.
Bolsonaro repeated those sentiments Tuesday, likening the virus to a rain that will fall on most people and saying that some, like older people, must take greater care.
Cities and states last month began lifting restrictions that had been imposed to control the spread of the virus, as deaths began to decline along with the occupancy rate in intensive care units.
The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief, Dr. Michael Ryan, wished Bolsonaro a speedy recovery and said his infection “brings home the reality of this virus" by showing that it doesn't distinguish between “prince or pauper.”
Brazil's government confirmed on Wednesday that a 61-year-old Brazilian man who traveled to Italy this month has Latin America's first confirmed case of the contagious new coronavirus.
"We will now see how this virus behaves in a tropical country in the middle of summer, how its behavior pattern will be," Brazil's Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said in a press conference.
The Brazilian man spent two weeks in northern Italy's Lombardy region on a work trip, where he contracted the contagious virus, the health ministry said.
Authorities had already said Tuesday evening that a first laboratory test for the COVID-19 virus had a positive result, and were waiting for a second test to confirm.
Since the virus began to spread throughout the world from China, Brazil and other countries in the region have registered dozens of suspected cases, all of which previously had been discarded following tests.
According to the Health Ministry, the man began to show symptoms compatible with the illness, such as a dry cough, throat pain and flu symptoms. Lombardy is the epicenter of the outbreak in Italy, and there have been hundreds of confirmed cases there as well as several deaths.
Sao Paulo's Albert Einstein Institute, where the man received medical attention, carried out respiratory tests, and the Adolfo Lutz Institute in the same city carried out the subsequent test confirming the virus The man was in stable condition and in isolation at home in Sao Paulo.
Brazil's national health agency Anvisa has been working to map all contact the man had with others, and on Tuesday requested the manifest of the flight he took to investigate other possible cases.
The Health Ministry said that the man received some 30 family members at his home after returning to Sao Paulo on Feb. 21. Those people are under observation, as are with passengers from the plane.
"Our healthcare system has already undergone grave respiratory epidemics before," Mandetta said. "We will get through this situation, investing in science, research and clear information."
Four years ago, Latin America's largest country found itself under the microscope as the spreading Zika virus was linked to cases of microcephaly in babies just ahead of the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil's response was deemed adequate by international organizations and its public health care system handled most cases, though medicine was in short supply in many isolated areas of the Northeast region. Some foreign sports fans and competitors still canceled their plans to attend South America's first Olympics.
As of Wednesday, there were 20 suspected cases of the new coronavirus in Brazil, 12 of which in people who returned from Italy. Authorities have so far ruled out 59 cases that were suspected since the outbreak began.
Due to the spread of the new virus worldwide, Brazil on Monday broadened its critieria for analysis of suspected cases. The Health Ministry determined that people with fever and flu symptoms returning from Italy and six other countries should be considered suspected cases. Those countries are Germany, France, Australia, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, and the Philippines.
The news of the virus reaching Brazilian soil comes as the nation emerges from its annual Carnival revelry. Amanda Pereira, who joined a street party on Wednesday with her young daughter, said, "I worry a lot because my daughters have breathing problems, so we will stay alert."
Asked whether Brazilians should cancel plans to visit Europe, Mandetta said this is "just another reason for domestic tourism" and said that people should use "good sense"
"If it's not necessary, why are you going to book? Wait for us to see if this starts to behave better," he said. "Now, we also can't stop our lives because there is a respiratory syndrome."
The countries already on Brazil's watch list were China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, North Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.