Coronavirus: Brazil, India now number cases in the millions as both countries pass grim milestones
The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Brazil and India have crossed the symbolic milestones of two million and one million respectively.
Since it first reported cases of the novel coronavirus in late May, Brazil has recorded more than 1,000 daily deaths on average in a gruesome plateau that has yet to tilt downward.
The federal health ministry reported on Thursday that the country had passed 2 million confirmed cases of the deadly disease and 76,000 deaths.
Even as cases wave somewhat in the biggest and hardest-hit Brazilian cities, the virus is peaking in new locations across the country.
Experts blame denial of the virus' deadly potential by President Jair Bolsonaro and lack of national coordination combined with scattershot responses by city and state governments, with some reopening earlier than health experts recommended.
It is second only to the US where more than 3.5 million infections and 138,358 fatalities have been recorded.
But some experts believe the 2 million number to be an under count due to widespread lack of testing. A model created by professors from several Brazilian academic institutions, based on the number of confirmed deaths, estimates Brazil has had 10 million infections.
"The virus would have been difficult to stop anyway. But this milestone of 2 million cases, which is very underestimated, shows this could have been different, Dr Adriano Massuda, a health care administration specialist and professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a Sao Paulo university, said.
"There's no national strategy for testing, no measures from the top, ... too little effort to improve basic care so we find serious cases before they become too serious, no tracking," he added.
Meanwhile, India's Health Ministry said on Friday that the country has surpassed 1 million cases.
The ministry has reported nearly 25,000 deaths and more than 600,000 recoveries so far.
The grim milestone comes at a time when several Indian states are imposing focused lockdown to stem the outbreak amid frantic efforts by local governments to protect the economy.
So far, three states — Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu — have accounted for more than half of total cases. But in India's vast countryside, which is much less prepared and with weaker health care, the pandemic is clearly growing.
"The acceleration in cases remain the main challenge for India in the coming days," Dr Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said, adding that a vast majority of cases were still being missed.
India's response to the virus was initially sluggish and then it bought time by locking down its entire population of 1.4 billion people for three weeks on March 24.
The nationwide lockdown, then extended for five more weeks, came at an enormous economic cost amid an unprecedented humanitarian crisis when millions of impoverished migrant workers were forced to return to the countryside due to job losses and hunger.
Nearly 590,000 people have lost their lives to the pandemic, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. More than 13.7 million people globally have been infected.