South America has become a new COVID-19 epicentre: WHO

The most affected country in South America is Brazil as it has reported more than 330,000 positive COVID-19 cases, surpassing Russia.

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South America has become ‘a new epicentre’ of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization said on Friday (May 23), following a surge in the number of coronavirus infections. Mike Ryan, WHO Emergencies Director said in a virtual news conference that several South American countries have reported increasing number of COVID-19 cases.

The most affected country in South America is Brazil. Brazil has reported more than 330,000 positive COVID-19 cases, surpassing Russia. It has achieved a grim milestone to become the nation with the second-highest number of cases in the world, just behind United States.

According to WHO, the COVID-19 death toll in Brazil has surpassed 20,000 on Thursday (May 22), after a record number of fatalities in just a 24-hour period. The country’s highest spike of one-day toll recording 1,188, pushed the overall death tally to 20,047.

Experts have said that a lack of COVID-19 tests in Brazil means that the real figures are probably much higher. The death toll in the country has doubled in 11 days, which is the sixth highest in the world, as of now.

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Mike Ryan said that the majority of the cases are from the Sao Paulo region. Brazil’s health ministry has recommended that using the anti-malaria drugs chloroquine as well as hydroxychloroquine to treat the mild coronavirus cases. Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump recently made a surprise announcement that he himself is taking hydroxychloroquine, despite his own government experts suggesting that it is not suitable for fighting COVID-19.

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However, Mike Ryan stressed that neither hydroxychloroquine nor chloroquine have been proven to be effective in treating COVID-19. The two drugs are among those involved in the WHO-coordinated clinical trials to find the effective treatments for the infection. Around 3,000 patients are taking part in the clinical trials in 320 hospitals across 17 countries.

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