A boy wears a face mask in the Brazilian city of Manaus on Tuesday. Brazil has become a new global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in recent days. — AFP/VNA Photo
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil reported the highest daily COVID-19 death toll in the world on Tuesday with 1,039 people killed, the fifth straight day the country has topped the list.
Latin America's largest country, which has emerged as a new epicenter in the coronavirus pandemic, has seen its daily death toll surge past that of the US, the hardest-hit country so far.
The US recorded a death toll of 657 in the past 24 hours, said the Johns Hopkins University tracker. That was the third day in a row it had come in under 700, bringing the country's overall toll to 98,875 deaths.
Meanwhile, Brazil's daily death toll has passed 1,000 four times since the pandemic accelerated in the country a week ago.
Brazil has now confirmed a total of 24,512 deaths, according to health ministry figures.
Experts say under-testing means the real number is probably much higher.
With a population of 210 million people, Brazil has recorded 391,222 infections, second only to the US, which has confirmed more than 1.68 million. Brazil is torn over how to respond to the pandemic.
Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has downplayed the virus and railed against stay-at-home measures, arguing the economic fallout risks causing more damage than the virus itself.
But most state governments have stuck to the World Health Organization's guidance and closed non-essential businesses.
Bolsonaro has meanwhile pinned his hopes on the medication hydroxychloroquine, which -- like US President Donald Trump -- he has touted as a potential wonder drug against COVID-19.
Brazil's health ministry recommends doctors in the public health system prescribe hydroxychloroquine or a related drug, chloroquine, from the onset of COVID-19 symptoms.
It said on Monday it stood by that guideline, despite the WHO ending clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine over concerns about its safety and effectiveness against the coronavirus.
The United States has posted a toll of less than 700 new coronavirus deaths for the third day in a row, the Johns Hopkins University tracker said on Tuesday.
A total of 657 people have died in the past 24 hours as of 8:30pm, the Baltimore-based institution said.
The overall death toll is now 98,875, and the number of cases of infection stands at more than 1.68 million, it said.
Both are the highest anywhere in the world.
Peru on Tuesday recorded nearly 5,800 new cases of the coronavirus, its highest 24-hour surge, bringing the number of people infected in the country to almost 130,000, the health ministry said.
The news follows concern expressed by the Pan American Health Organization over the accelerating number of cases in the country, along with those of neighbouring Chile and Brazil.
The health ministry said 5,772 new cases had been confirmed in the previous 24 hours, bringing the overall number to 129,751.
It said 3,780 people had died from the disease in the country since the first case was detected in early March.
President Martin Vizcarra said there were signs that the worst had passed.
"Peru has already entered a plateau in the curve that registers the expansion of the epidemic," Vizcarra said. The curve "is not flat, but irregular, but the trend is towards a gradual and slow decline."
Peru has been in lockdown for 72 days, paralyzing the economy. The health system is on the brink of collapse, with public hospitals facing drastic equipment shortages.
Nearly 70 per cent of cases have been recorded in the capital Lima and the neighboring port of Callao, home to 10 million people or almost one-third of Peru's population.
Before Tuesday's announcement, the country had been registering an average of 4,000 new infections for several days.
Peru has the second-highest number of cases in Latin America after Brazil. — AFP