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A man walks in front of a graffiti of a boy wearing a face mask in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil A man walks in front of a graffiti of a boy wearing a face mask in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 

Covid-19: Cases increase in Brazil, breakthrough announced in UK

Brazil records a concerning increase in its Covid-19 death rate, cases on the rise again in China, and the UK announces scientific breakthrough.

By Vatican News

Currently, more than 8.1 million people have been confirmed to have coronavirus around the world.

Nearly 4 million have recovered, while at least 444,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Brazil cases increase

Brazil set a grim new record on Tuesday as its confirmed coronavirus cases grew by over 34,000 in 24 hours, bringing its total number of cases to over 923,000.

The country also recorded over 1,200 deaths since its last update on Monday, bringing its confirmed fatalities to 45,456 reported deaths. That makes Brazil the country with the second most cases in the world, after the United States.

The concerning increase in the infection rate comes as the pandemic continues to accelerate in Latin American countries. 

As of Wednesday, Peru recorded more than 7,000 deaths from about 237,000 confirmed coronavirus cases after almost three months of confinement measures. 

Chile also reportedly has 184,000 confirmed cases with about 3,800 Covid-19 related deaths.

Resurgence in China

A new coronavirus outbreak in Beijing grew on Wednesday to 137 cases in the past week. The Chinese government has since stepped up containment measures to control the resurgence of the Covid-19 virus in the country.

Chinese health authorities on Wednesday confirmed 31 new Covid-19 cases. The first confirmed case of this new outbreak was recorded on 11 June, according to a statement on WHO's website.

Schools which had recently re-opened have been closed once again, and companies were told to encourage working from home. Health officials have also isolated 27 neighborhoods and imposed stricter restrictions on movement out of the capital.

WHO also reports that preliminary investigations have revealed that some of the initial symptomatic cases had a link to Beijing’s Xinfadi wholesale market, one of Asia’s biggest supply markets.

Since the first case of the Covid-19 virus was detected in Wuhan last year, China has reported over 83,000 cases and over 4,600 deaths. This recent re-emergence of infections in Beijing comes after a lull of almost two months.

Research breakthrough in the UK

Separately, the World Health Organization (WHO) has welcomed a breakthrough in coronavirus research from the United Kingdom in a statement released on Tuesday.

WHO said initial clinical trial results show that the use of dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, “can be lifesaving for patients who are critically ill with Covid-19."

The statement also indicates that for patients on ventilators, “the treatment was shown to reduce mortality by about one third.” However, for patients requiring oxygen, “mortality was cut by about one fifth.”

Dexamethasone has been in use since the 1960s to reduce inflammation in a range of conditions including inflammatory disorders and cancers. It is listed in the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, and is affordably available in most countries, according to the WHO.

Reacting to the news, WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus said, “This is the first treatment to be shown to reduce mortality in patients with Covid-19 requiring oxygen or ventilator support.” He went on to congratulate the government of the UK, the University of Oxford, and the hospitals and patients who contributed to the scientific breakthrough.


17 June 2020, 12:00