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Coronavirus deaths soar in Latin America and the Caribbean, with Brazil hit hardest

WHO: South America is the new virus epicenter
WHO calls South America new coronavirus epicenter 01:42

Montevideo, Uruguay — Latin America and the Caribbean on Tuesday surpassed 100,000 coronavirus deaths, more than half of them in Brazil, according to an AFP count based on official figures.

The pandemic is accelerating across the region, which now has a total of 2.1 million cases, with Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Chile the most affected countries.

Brazil has the second-highest COVID-19 death toll in the world, after the United States, at more than 52,640 fatalities out of 1,145,906 confirmed cases.

Alexandre Naime Barbosa, a medical professor at São Paulo State University, told the Reuters news agency last week that the true number of coronavirus cases in Brazil may actually be much higher, "because there is under-reporting of a magnitude of 5 to 10 times... The true number is probably at least 3 million and could even be as high as 10 million people."  

Brazil's President Bolsonaro continues to downplay coronavirus threat 02:15

A federal judge ordered Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has famously compared the coronavirus to a "little flu," to wear a face mask in public, after the far-right leader repeatedly flouted containment measures in place in Brasilia.

"The president has a constitutional obligation to follow the laws in force in the country, as well as to promote the general welfare of the people," the judge wrote. 

Bolsonaro Inaugurates the Main Spacial Operations Center (COPE-P) Amidst the Coronavirus (COVID - 19) Pandemic
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro arrives for ceremony to inaugurate the Main Spacial Operations Center (COPE-P) amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at the nation's aerospace operations command center, June 23, 2020, in Brasilia. Andressa Anholete/Getty

Mexico, also heavily hit by the virus, was struck Tuesday by a powerful 7.4 magnitude earthquake.

The quake hit as the country of 127 million people recorded its highest number of coronavirus cases in a 24-hour period, with 6,288 new infections, according to the Ministry of Health.

Peru, meanwhile, exceeded 260,000 coronavirus cases, as it marked 100 days under mandatory lockdown and received a donation of 250 ventilators from the United States.

Its neighbor to the north, Colombia, extended its quarantine Tuesday until July 15, as its coronavirus cases continue to climb. The country has registered 2,404 deaths out of more than 73,500 cases.

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