The coronavirus pandemic accelerated across Latin America on Friday, bringing a surge of new infections and deaths, even as curves flattened and reopening was underway in much of Europe, Asia and the United States.
Mexico and Brazil reported record counts of new cases and deaths almost daily this week, reigniting criticism of their presidents, who have slow-walked shutdowns in attempts to limit economic damage.
Brazil reported more than 20,000 deaths and 300,000 confirmed cases, making it the third worst-hit country in the world by official counts. Experts consider both numbers undercounts due to the widespread lack of testing.
Infections rose and intensive-care units were also swamped in Peru, Chile and Ecuador, countries lauded for imposing early and aggressive business shutdowns and quarantines. Many experts said the rising death toll across Latin America showed the limits of government action in a region where millions labour in informal jobs and many police forces are weak or corrupt and unable to enforce restrictions.
The World Health Organisation said Friday that South America was the "new epicentre" of the Covid-19 pandemic.