By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Through Sunday, May 10, Brazil health officials have reported 162,699 total COVID-19 cases, a nearly 7,000 case increase from Saturday, and 11,123 deaths.


São Paulo continues to concentrate most of the notifications, with about 45,000 cases and 3,608 deaths, followed by Rio de Janeiro, which has some 17,000 confirmations and 1,653 deaths.

While ground zero for the pandemic has gone from China to Italy to the United States, will Brazil be the next epicenter?

According to a report in the Atlantic, São Paulo physician Luciano Cesar Azevedo said, “Brazil is probably the next epicenter of the pandemic in the world–I think Brazil is going to get close to 100,000 deaths.”

Tom Inglesby of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has seen the COVID-19 cases rise dramatically in recent week and notes–The developments in Brazil “are really concerning.”

To make things worse, the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro has been dubbed “the biggest threat to Brazil’s COVID-19 response” in a recent editorial in The Lancet.

The editorial notes that Bolsonaro not only continues to sow confusion by openly flouting and discouraging the sensible measures of physical distancing and lockdown brought in by state governors and city mayors but has also lost two important and influential ministers in the past 3 weeks.

Even with issues at the top levels of government in Brazil, they would have a difficult time to combat COVID-19. About 13 million Brazilians live in favelas, often with more than three people per room and little access to clean water. Physical distancing and hygiene recommendations are near impossible to follow in these environments.

The Indigenous population has been under severe threat even before the COVID-19 outbreak because the government has been ignoring or even encouraging illegal mining and logging in the Amazon rainforest. These loggers and miners now risk bringing COVID-19 to remote populations.

A recent Imperial College London forecast shows  the COVID-19 epidemic is likely growing in Brazil and based on the central trends in the forecasts, the total number of reported deaths in the coming week is expected to be large with 1,000 to 5,000 deaths.