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Brazil records new coronavirus cases, surpasses France in deaths

The South American nation has now reported 498,440 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the outbreak began, a level of contagion second only to the United States.

The death toll in Brazil from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, increased to 28,834, with 956 new deaths in the last 24 hours, the ministry said.

Brazilian states are preparing to ease quarantine restrictions despite warnings from public health experts who say the worst is still to come.

Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has played down the gravity of the epidemic and criticized lockdowns for paralyzing the economy and causing widespread unemployment and hardship.

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