Brazil has surpassed a grim milestone of 100,000 deaths from Covid-19, with the country showing no signs of crushing the disease five months after its first reported case.
The nation of 210 million people has been reporting an average of more than 1,000 daily deaths from the pandemic since late May, and reported 905 more in the 24 hours to Saturday night, edging its toll into six figures.
The health ministry said there had been a total of 3,012,412 confirmed infections, while Brazil’s death toll sits second only to the United States.
And as in many countries, experts believe Brazil’s numbers are severe undercounts due to insufficient testing.
In a tribute to Covid-19 victims, the non-governmental group Rio de Paz placed crosses and a thousand red balloons on the sand on the famed Copacabana beach.
“It’s very sad. Those 100,000 represent various families, friends, parents, children”, said Marcio Silva, 55, who lost his children in the pandemic and joined the tribute.
One poster read: “100 thousand: Why are we the second country in number of deaths?”
At the end of the tribute, members of the NGO released the balloons, which sailed into the sky.
President Jair Bolsonaro, who himself reported being infected, has been a consistent sceptic about the impact of the disease and an advocate of lifting restrictions on the economy that had been imposed by state governors trying to combat it.
He has frequently mingled in crowds, sometimes without a mask.
“I regret all the deaths, it’s already reaching the number 100,000, but we are going to find a way out of that”, Mr Bolsonaro said in a Thursday night Facebook transmission.