Brazil has confirmed more than 330,000 cases of coronavirus, overtaking Russia to become the nation with the second highest number of infections, behind only the United States.
Last Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) called South America the "new epicenter" of the deadly virus, with WHO Emergency Director Mike Ryan expressing his most great concern for Brazil.
"In a sense, South America has become a new epicenter of the disease. We have seen many South American countries with an increasing number of cases," said Ryan at the time. a virtual press conference.
"It is clear that there is a concern in many of these countries, but Brazil is clearly the most affected at this stage," he said.
Brazil on Friday recorded 1,001 coronavirus deaths per day, bringing the total number to 21,048, according to the Ministry of Health.
However, the actual number – of both cases and deaths – is likely to be higher as the first economy in Latin America took a long time to speed up testing.
The death toll has doubled in just 11 days, according to ministry data. "The majority of the cases are from the Sao Paulo area," said Ryan.
"But in terms of attack rates, the highest attack rates are actually found in the Amazon: around 490 people infected per 100,000 people, which is quite high," he said. declared about the vast state of northwestern Brazil.
The Brazilian Ministry of Health has recommended using the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat even mild cases of COVID-19 – treatments that President Jair Bolsonaro has claimed despite the lack of conclusive evidence of their effectiveness.
An analysis published Friday in the medical journal The Lancet found that patients treated with the drugs had a higher risk of death than those who had not received these drugs.
Ryan pointed out that neither hydroxychloroquine nor chloroquine have been shown to be effective in the treatment of COVID-19 – or in prophylaxis against the disease.
The two drugs are part of a handful involved in clinical trials coordinated by the WHO to find effective treatments for the disease. Some 3,000 patients are participating in trials in 320 hospitals in 17 countries.
"Our current clinical and systematic reviews by the Pan American Health Organization, and current clinical evidence, do not support the widespread use of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 – not before the end of the testing and we have clear results, "said Ryan.
Al Jazeera and news agencies