Wednesday saw grim tolls in the United States and two of the hardest-hit countries in Latin America as Brazil swiftly passed the 400,000-mark in confirmed COVID-19 infections.
Brazil Records Over 20,000 New Infections
The Brazilian health ministry on Wednesday reported 20,599 new coronavirus cases, bringing the national tally to 411,821. There were also 1,086 new deaths, bringing the national fatality count to 25,498.
The news came amid increasing criticism against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his administration's handling of the coronavirus crisis.
In Sao Paulo, Governor Joao Doria announced Wednesday that starting June 1, the state will begin a new phase of community quarantine as part of the local government's efforts to prevent further infections.
Analysts See Potentially Nearing End of Bolsonaro's Regime
Due to the recent spike in new cases across Brazil and the increasing disappointment on Bolsonaro's health crisis management methods, some analysts have expressed their thoughts on the potential downfall of the Brazilian president's administration.
Director of the Rio de Janeiro-based think tank Igarape Institute Robert Muggah said "Bolsonaro and his government could be the first to be toppled" by COVID-19 amid the latter's failure to properly get Brazil out of the situation.
For Muggah, there are multiple ways to oust Bolsonaro before the presidential election takes place in 2022. Among these is the use of allegations surrounding Bolsonaro's supposed position as a threat to the general public's health due to his continuous defiance of social distancing guidelines.
Muggah further warned that as long as Bolsonaro is in power, "more Brazilians will die."
Another analyst, head of Verisk Maplecroft's Americas research Jimena Blanco said that if there was a plan to remove Bolsonaro from his post, the change in leadership "needs to be a swift one" especially as deaths and new coronavirus cases balloon in Brazil.
The emergence of recent talks from analysts echo earlier statements by some of Bolsonaro's political rivals who have been publicly calling out the president for his lax handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
WHO Says Latin America is New Epicenter
Earlier this week, World Health Organization (WHO) director for the Americas Carissa Etienne said the Latin American region "has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic." Etienne went on to warn of "very tough" weeks to come for countries in the region.
Etienne noted that in particular, Brazil still has a long road ahead in terms of containing the virus and flattening the curve. Her comments came amid rising cases even outside the second hardest-hit country in the world.
Other Latin American Countries See Rise in Confirmed Cases
Peru as of Wednesday reported 123,979 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and Chile follows behind with 73,997 infections. In fourth place among hard-hit countries in Latin America is Mexico with 68,620 confirmed infections.
Mexico and Brazil, in particular, have seen coronavirus cases increase by tenfold over the past two weeks. Some health analysts believe the numbers of the two countries may even reach or surpass the U.S. in months if the curve is not flattened.
Health authorities have also noted that testing in the Americas lags compared to other countries such as South Korea and Singapore where cases are rising due to clusters but testing helps control the situation at some point.
As of Tuesday, there were over 2.4 million confirmed COVID-19 cases across Latin America.