WHO: South America 'effectively' new epicenter for coronavirus

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South America the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the World Health Organization.

Last week, Brazil overtook Spain and Italy in total confirmed cases. A few days later, Brazil recorded over 20,000 new cases in a single day, with total confirmed cases surpassing 300,000 on Friday. Only the United States and Russia have counted more cases than Brazil has.

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The rest of the continent has not fared much better, with Chile recording 4,276 new cases on Friday and Peru surpassing 100,000 cases earlier in the week. During an appearance on “Bill Hemmer Reports” Thursday, Dr. Marc Siegel suggested that U.S. officials should keep an eye on the spread of COVID-19 in South America.

Now, WHO appears to agree with Dr. Seigel

"We've seen many South American countries with increasing numbers of cases and clearly there's a concern across many of those countries, but certainly the most affected is Brazil at this point,” Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO's emergencies program, said at a news briefing on Friday.

"In a sense, South America has become a new epicenter for the disease.”

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Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro has faced criticism for weeks after he has flat out refused to deal with the pandemic. British medical journal The Lancet published an editorial earlier this month in which it labeled Bolsonaro as “the biggest threat” to Brazil’s efforts to fight the pandemic.

Brazil also recently approved a broad use of hydroxychloroquine, which President Donald Trump has touted and even claimed to be taking despite studies linking an increased risk of death in hospitalized patients taking the drug.

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"The current clinical evidence does not support the widespread use of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19, not until the trials are completed and we have clearer results,” Ryan said. "In terms of attack rates, the highest attack rates are actually in Amazonas. About 490 persons infected per 100,000 population, which is quite a high attack rate.”

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Brazil has a total of 310,087 cases, Peru has 108,769, Chile has 61,857, Ecuador has 35,828 and Colombia has 18,330. The rest of the continent is suffering in smaller numbers, but the rates of increase are not showing signs of flattening just yet.

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