WHO says the Americas are new Covid-19 epicentre as deaths surge in Latin America

The Americas have emerged as the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a Tuesday briefing, as a US study forecast deaths surging in Brazil and other Latin American countries through August.

"Now is not the time for countries to ease restrictions," Carissa Etienne, WHO director for the Americas and head of the Pan American Health Organisation, said via videoconference.

The Americas have registered more than 2.4 million cases of the new coronavirus and more than 143,000 deaths from the resulting Covid-19 respiratory disease. Latin America has passed Europe and the United States in daily infections, she said.

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The coronavirus ravages Latin America
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The coronavirus ravages Latin America
Relatives of a COVID-19 victim wait outside Serafin cemetery in Bogota, on July 4, 2020. - Latin America has the second most COVID-19 cases in the world with 2.73 million, head of Europe on 2.71 million but behind North America. Colombia, the fourth largest economy in the region, passed 100,000 cases this week. (Photo by Raul ARBOLEDA / AFP) (Photo by RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP via Getty Images)
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA - JULY 04: Funeral workers wearing PPE arrive in a hearse at the Parque Serafin cemetery transporting a coffin with a deceased by COVID-19 to be cremated on July 04, 2020 in Bogota, Colombia. The Parque Serafin Cemetery is one of the largest in Bogotá, the most affected city by contagion in the country, where most confirmed or suspected COVID-19 victims were cremated following strict health protocols. The cemetery has cremated up to 18 remains per day. (Photo by Guillermo Legaria/Getty Images)
QUITO, ECUADOR - JULY 01: Members of the Secretary of Health of Quito talk before taking of samples PCR / COVID-19 on July 01, 2020 in Quito, Ecuador. (Photo by Sofía Calle/Agencia Press South/Getty Images)
QUITO, ECUADOR - JULY 01: A person wearing a face mask looks on as lines up to access the PCR / COVID-19 test on July 01, 2020 in Quito, Ecuador. (Photo by Sofía Calle/Agencia Press South/Getty Images)
QUITO, ECUADOR - JULY 01: A truck driver carries recycled paper on July 01, 2020 in Quito, Ecuador. The covid-19 contagion curve grew with a yellow light in Quito. During the 27 days that Quito is at a yellow light, the increase in people infected with covid-19 amounts to 71%, going from 3,842 confirmed cases on June 3 to 6,571 cases on June 30, 2020. (Photo by Sofía Calle/Agencia Press South/Getty Images)
A Catholic faithful remains sitting at the San Francisco church in Quito on July 1, 2020, following social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. (Photo by RODRIGO BUENDIA / AFP) (Photo by RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP via Getty Images)
QUITO, ECUADOR - JUNE 29: Medical personnel takes a swab for the PCR COVID-19 test on June 29, 2020 in Quito, Ecuador. According to WHO, Ecuador counts over 4,500 deaths and more than 55,500 positive cases. (Photo by Sofía Calle/Agencia Press South/Getty Images)
QUITO, ECUADOR - JUNE 29: A blind person walks with his wife on the streets of downtown Quito on June 29, 2020 in Quito, Ecuador. According to WHO, Ecuador counts over 4,500 deaths and more than 55,500 positive cases. (Photo by Sofía Calle/Agencia Press South/Getty Images)
QUITO, ECUADOR - JULY 01: A person lines up to access the PCR / COVID-19 test on July 01, 2020 in Quito, Ecuador. (Photo by Sofía Calle/Agencia Press South/Getty Images)
BRASILIA, BRAZIL - JUNE 23: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro looks on during ceremony to inaugurate the Main Spacial Operations Center (COPE-P) amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at the Comando de Operações Aeroespaciais on June 23, 2020 in Brasilia. Brazil has over 1.145,000 confirmed positive cases of Coronavirus and 52,645 deaths. (Photo by Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)
dpatop - 14 October 2020, Brazil, Sao Paulo: Cemetery workers in protective suits shoveling earth at the Vila Formosa cemetery in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo in the middle of the Corona pandemic. Photo: Lincon Zarbietti/dpa (Photo by Lincon Zarbietti/picture alliance via Getty Images)
An indigenous woman and her daughter, of the Ticuna ethnic group, see a doctor at a health post in the Umariacu village, Tabatinga, Amazonas state, Brazil, on June 19, 2020, amid the new coronavirus pandemic. - As the new coronavirus has ravaged Brazil, more than 7,000 indigenous people have contracted the virus, and more than 300 have died, according to the Brazilian Indigenous Peoples' Association (APIB), forcing many indigenous groups to take matters into their own hands. Some have locked the world out, banning outsiders and putting up a makeshift roadblock at the entrance to their territory, while others have fled into the jungle. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP) (Photo by EVARISTO SA/AFP via Getty Images)
BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 23: Medical staff members wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) work at the ICU of Mater Dei hospital amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on June 23, 2020 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Brazil has over 1.000,000 confirmed positive cases of Coronavirus and has over 50,000 deaths. (Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)
Bathers sunbathe on the sand of Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 21, 2020. Rio de Janeiro again registered intense movement on the beaches of the city's South Zone. The military police tried to isolate the beach on June 21, 2020, the first weekend of winter. Even with the death toll in the corona virus pandemic, the number of people increased, many people could be seen in the sand, which is still not allowed, according to the measures of easing social isolation. (Photo by Fabio Teixeira/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
BRASILIA, BRAZIL - JUNE 08: A person wearing a face mask looks on during a performance "Whoever left is someone's love" with red ballons and projections by artists from the Federal District in honor of the over 37,000 victims of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Brazil and manifest pro-democracy at Museu da Republica on June 08, 2020 in Brasilia, Brazil. (Photo by Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 08: A woman wearing a mask walks past a wall with a graffiti depicting a cleaner in protective gear spraying viruses with the face of President Jair Bolsonaro in Estacio neighborhood amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on June 8, 2020 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Bruna Prado/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JUNE 10: A customer wearing a mask has their temperature measured in downtown Sao Paulo during the fist day of commerce opening since the beginning of quarantine due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on June 10, 2020 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Establishments in the city of Sao Paulo will be able to operate only 4 hours a day, between 11 am and 3 pm, and must follow hygiene standards. (Photo by Miguel Schincariol/Getty Images)
LIMA, PERU - JUNE 10: Aeronautical technicians work in an isolation chamber at the Las Palmas naval base on June 10, 2020 in Lima, Peru. A team of aircraft maintenance engineers of Peruvian Air Force developed fully-sealed pods to isolate COVID-19 patients while they are transported in ambulances or moved within hospitals. Materials used for the pods are the same used to construct airplanes. Peru is the second country worst-hit by COVID-19 in Latin America, only after Brazil. (Photo by Raul Sifuentes/Getty Images)
Health workers from the city of Melgaco check a resident of a small riverside community in the southwest of Marajo Island, state of Para, Brazil, on June 9, 2020, amid concern over the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. (Photo by TARSO SARRAF / AFP) (Photo by TARSO SARRAF/AFP via Getty Images)
Health workers assist a COVID-19 patient at the Gilberto Novaes Municipal Hospital in Manaus, Brazil on June 8, 2020. - The hospital has a new wing dedicated exclusively to give medical attention to indigenous patients infected with COVID-19. (Photo by MICHAEL DANTAS / AFP) (Photo by MICHAEL DANTAS/AFP via Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - JUNE 10: A customer wearing a mask has their temperature measured in downtown Sao Paulo during the fist day of commerce opening since the beginning of quarantine due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on June 10, 2020 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Establishments in the city of Sao Paulo will be able to operate only 4 hours a day, between 11 am and 3 pm, and must follow hygiene standards. (Photo by Miguel Schincariol/Getty Images)
BRASILIA, BRAZIL - JUNE 07: People attend an anti-racist protest condemning the government of President Jair Bolsonaro amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at the Esplanada dos Ministérios on June 07, 2020 in Brasilia, Brazil. The country has over 672,000 confirmed positive cases of Coronavirus and 35,930 deaths. (Photo by Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)
BRASILIA, BRAZIL - JUNE 07: People attend an anti-racist protest condemning the government of President Jair Bolsonaro amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at the Esplanada dos Ministérios on June 07, 2020 in Brasilia, Brazil. The country has over 672,000 confirmed positive cases of Coronavirus and 35,930 deaths. (Photo by Andressa Anholete/Getty Images)
A supporter of President Jair Bolsonaro wears a face mask with Bolsonaro's image during a demonstration at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 7, 2020. (Photo by CARL DE SOUZA / AFP) (Photo by CARL DE SOUZA/AFP via Getty Images)
SAO GONCALO, BRAZIL - JUNE 06: Children of Itaoca community receive toy donations amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on June 6, 2020 in Sao Goncalo, Brazil. "Por Gentileza" is a collective idealized by Thamiris Santos, 28, a social service student. She has been carrying out actions, with volunteers, throughout the last 4 years and during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the actions are being carried every month in the Itaoca community where the former Lixao de Sao Goncalo (dumping grounds) used to be. The project aids homeless people, self-employed workers and about 100 families of ex-garbage collectors with donations of food, hand sanitizers, toys and cleaning products. (Photo by Luis Alvarenga/Getty Images)
Health professionals geasture during a break of their shift at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) ward where patients infected with the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, are being treated at the Doctor Ernesto Che Guevara Public Hospital in Marica city, state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 5, 2020. (Photo by Mauro Pimentel / AFP) (Photo by MAURO PIMENTEL/AFP via Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - MAY 23: An aerial view of the cemetery in Vila Formosa, where the bodies of the victims of the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) are buried in Sao Paulo, Brazil on May 23, 2020. (Photo by Marcello Zambrana/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
TOLUCA, MEXICO - MAY 25, 2020: Portrait of a nurses wearing face shield as protective measure against Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease at Adolfo Lopez Mateos Hospital. On May 25, 2020 In Toluca, Mexico- PHOTOGRAPH BY Ricardo Castelan Cruz / Eyepix G/ Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Ricardo Castelan Cruz / Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
SANTIAGO, CHILE - MAY 25: A demonstrator carries a car tire to make barricades during a protest to demand government aid amid the COVID-19 pandemic on May 25, 2020 in Santiago, Chile. The lockdown to prevent the halt of the Coronavirus pandemic has restricted most of the informal work and resulted in an economic crisis for the most vulnerable. Neighbors of Bajos de Mena demand government aid to palliate the lack of food. (Photo by Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images)
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - MAY 26: Police officers wearing protective suits stand guard inside Villa Azul on May 26, 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The slum remains isolated by authorities after 92 people tested positive of COVID-19, according to Health Ministry of the Buenos Aires Province. Government-ordered lockdown was extended until June 07 due to increase in the number of positive cases. (Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images)
Mexican Red Cross' paramedics rush a patient suspected of being infected with the novel COVID-19 coronavirus into Venados General Hospital, in Mexico City, on May 26, 2020. (Photo by PEDRO PARDO / AFP) (Photo by PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images)
Soldiers stand guard as a municipal worker unloads boxes of basic products from a truck to be delivered to families economically affected by the mandatory quarantine ordered by the Chilean government due to COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, in Santiago, on May 25, 2020. - Chile began Friday the delivery of 2.5 million boxes of basic products for the most vulnerable families amid protests due to food and job shortages caused by the measures imposed by the government against the new coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by MARTIN BERNETTI / AFP) (Photo by MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images)
Brazilian Liliane Tavares de Moura, a church community volunteer from the Educandos riverside community in Manaus, distributes face masks to her neighbors during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in Manaus, Brazil on May 26, 2020. - The Nossa Senhora Perpetuo Socorro church has been handing out masks to impoverished members of its community to assist in the fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Photo by MICHAEL DANTAS / AFP) (Photo by MICHAEL DANTAS/AFP via Getty Images)
A boy from the Educandos riverside community wears a face mask during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in Manaus, the Amazon on May 26, 2020. - The Nossa Senhora Perpetuo Socorro church has been handing out masks to impoverished members of its community to assist in the fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Photo by MICHAEL DANTAS / AFP) (Photo by MICHAEL DANTAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Brazilian Liliane Tavares de Moura, a church community volunteer from the Educandos riverside community in Manaus, prepares to distribute face masks to her neighbors during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic in Manaus, Brazil on May 26, 2020. - The Nossa Senhora Perpetuo Socorro church has been handing out masks to impoverished members of its community to assist in the fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Photo by MICHAEL DANTAS / AFP) (Photo by MICHAEL DANTAS/AFP via Getty Images)
Health workers of the Pinero Hospital take part in a protest demanding authorities for better working conditions during the lockdown imposed by the government against the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, in Buenos Aires, on May 26, 2020. (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA / AFP) (Photo by JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images)
MARICÁ, BRAZIL - MAY 26: An indigenous boy from Guarani Mbyá looks on at Aldeia Mata Verde Bonita on May 26, 2020 in Maricá, Brazil. About 80 Guarani Mbyá indigenous who form twenty-six families in the Aldeia Mata Verde Bonita, have had their economy, which is based on the sales of handicrafts and on tourism, paralyzed due to the social isolation and quarantine of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Families rely on the assistance of the municipality, partners and volunteers. To date, no cases of coronavirus have been reported in the Guarani Mbyá indigenous territory in Maricá. Brazil has nearly 395,000 total cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) reported, with nearly 25,000 deaths, the sixth most among countries of the world. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Health workers ride a motorbike by cars queueing to refuel, near a gas station, in Caracas on May 25, 2020 amid the novel COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Federico PARRA / AFP) (Photo by FEDERICO PARRA/AFP via Getty Images)
A Colombian girl wears a face shield as her family remain at Guarulhos International Airport, in Guarulhos, near Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 26, 2020. - More than 200 Colombians remain stranded at Guarulhos International Airport, the largest in Brazil, waiting for a "humanitarian flight" from their government to take them home. They feed on donations, sleep on mats, and shower in the bathrooms. Colombia keeps its air borders closed due to the contingency of the crisis caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Miguel SCHINCARIOL / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP via Getty Images)
LIMA, PERU - MAY 26: A cook wearing face mask and latex gloves works at TIMBO chicken restaurant on May 26 in Lima, Peru. Restaurants in Lima and some provinces of Peru can reopen following strict health protocols and doing delivery only. President Vizcarra extended quarantine until June 30 authorizing some industries to get back to operate with certain restrictions. Despite being one of first nations in the Americas to take strict preventative coronavirus measures, Peru is only second to Brazil in number of victims and positive cases. (Photo by Raul Sifuentes/Getty Images)
A health worker takes samples from a man to test him for COVID-19 coronavirus, at the Biological Sciences unit of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) in Mexico City, on May 25, 2020, amid the new coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by PEDRO PARDO / AFP) (Photo by PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images)
Pedestrians wearing face protection masks walk on Avenida Paulista, in the central region of the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, on May 26, 2020 during the quarantine period in force in the state due to the pandemic of the new coronavirus. The Pan American Health Organization said on Tuesday, 26, that there is an ''exponential increase'' in new cases of coronavirus in Brazil, projecting that the number of deaths could reach 88,300 in early August. (Photo by Fabio Vieira/FotoRua/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
26 May 2020, Venezuela, Caracas: A soldier of the Bolivarian National Guard checks documents at a female driver with a mouthguard who is queuing in front of a gas station during the ongoing fuel shortage. Venezuela has huge oil reserves, but due to a lack of refinery capacity it has far too little petrol. According to Iranian information, the first of several Iranian tankers with petrol for Venezuela has reached the South American country. Cars are currently allowed to fill up to 30 litres of fuel. Photo: Pedro Rances Mattey/dpa (Photo by Pedro Rances Mattey/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Federal police officers carrying seized evidence walk into the Federal Police headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on May 26, 2020. - The Brazilian Federal Police carried out searches, as part of the Operation Placebo, at the official residence of the governor of Rio de Janeiro, Wilson Witzel, and at the homes of Brazilian former Secretary of Health Edmar Santos and former undersecretary Gabriel Neves. The operation is part of an investigation of the misappropriation of funds and fraud in the bidding processes for the purchase of equipment and supplies intended to combat the new coronavirus in Rio de Janeiro. (Photo by Fabio MOTTA / AFP) (Photo by FABIO MOTTA/AFP via Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - MAY 25: Lorrane, 27, a self-employed salesperson on the beaches, poses for a photo at her home located in the Muzema Community in the Itanhanga neighborhood amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on May 25, 2020 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. During the quarantine period and social isolation, she is unable to work and due to lack of financial resources, she had to move from the rented house she lived in back with her mother. She registered and received the urgent government benefit. Currently, she has the help of friends and volunteers who donate food to her entire family. According to the Brazilian Health Ministry, Brazil has over 370,000 positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) and more than 23,000 deaths. (Photo by Bruna Prado/Getty Images)
MANAUS, BRAZIL - MAY 25: A nurse inside a plane takes care of an indigenous man in critical conditions after being infected by coronavirus (COVID-19) after arriving from Borba city on May 25 2020 in Manaus, Brazil. Intensive Care Unit flights have been made daily to remote areas in Amazonas to rescue for patients seriously infected by coronavirus and bring them to Manaus, where the medical structure is bigger and more efficient. (Photo by Andre Coelho/Getty Images)
25 May 2020, Brazil, Manaus: Women wearing face masks walk down a street from Manaus. In view of the rapidly increasing number of corona infections in Brazil, the US government has imposed extensive entry restrictions on people from the South American country. Photo: Lucas Silva/dpa (Photo by Lucas Silva/picture alliance via Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - MAY 25: Colombian immigrants seen at Guarulhos Airport in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil on May 25, 2020. More than 100 people camp in terminal 2 of the airport about two weeks and are waiting for help to return to their country. (Photo by Marcello Zambrana/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - MAY 23: An aerial view of the cemetery in Vila Formosa, where the bodies of the victims of the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) are buried in Sao Paulo, Brazil on May 23, 2020. (Photo by Marcello Zambrana/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Residents of the Santa Marta favela, in Botafogo, in the South Zone of Rio, start on April 10, 2020 to work on cleaning the areas of the community on their own. The objective is to prevent the lack of sanitary conditions from facilitating the expansion of the Covid-19 region. volunteers start the process with personal protective equipment (PPE). The Botafogo neighborhood, where the Santa Marta slum is located, had 36 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus as of this Sunday, according to the State Health Secretariat Panel. In the municipality of Rio alone, 1068 cases were recorded, according to the same panel. Cases across the state totaled 1394 cases. (Photo by Fabio Teixeira/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A nurse takes a man inside the bullring. The Acho bullfighting ring in Lima has been settled to accommodate homeless and vulnerable people during the Covid-19 quarantine. During morning hour�s people who seek for refuge stand in a line to get a place in the makeshift shelter installed inside the ring but before getting help they are subjected to medical tests. Lima is a city with a high number of people in vulnerable situations, the bullfighting ring can provide shelter just for 122 homeless people, a measure considered insufficient because several cases have been rejected. (Photo by Sergi Rugrand / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
An old man talking on the phone while waiting in the line to be allowed in the provisional shelter installed in the Acho bullring. Lima's city council has arranged a makeshift shelter for homeless with capacity for 122 people where they give them a bed, food and health assistance during the Covid19 quarantine. (Photo by Miguel Angel Valero / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A doctor checking the temperature of one of those housed in the temporary shelter of the bullring of Acho. Lima's city council has arranged a makeshift shelter for homeless with capacity for 122 people where they give them a bed, food and health assistance during the Covid19 quarantine. (Photo by Miguel Angel Valero / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A Venezuelan migrant woman with her baby wait in front of the Acho bullring, where a makeshift shelter was settled inside to accommodate homeless people during the Covid19 quarantine. The peruvian government on march 16th declared the state of emergency restricting movements of people due to the spread of Covid19 pandemic, the police and the army patrol the streets and people were ordered to maintain social distance and hygienic measures. (Photo by Miguel Angel Valero / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Demonstrators set up a fire barricade during a protest against Chilean President Sebastian Pinera's government amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Santiago, on May 25, 2020. - Villagers in the populous commune in southern Santiago, clashed with the police after protesting the lack of food and work as a result of the crisis caused by the coronavirus, which keeps the Chilean capital in total quarantine. (Photo by Martin BERNETTI / AFP) (Photo by MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images)
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - MAY 25: Volunteer delivers food to people near Reforma Avenue in Mexico City on May 25, 2020. Since the start of the pandemic, the lines of people arriving to receive food have increased considerably. The National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval), in charge of measuring poverty in Mexico, warned that the number of poor people in the country could increase by more than 10 million due to the Coronavirus crisis. Currently, according to the latest figures from Coneval himself, there are more than 52 million poor people in Mexico. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - MAY 26: A girl gestures to a health worker from inside an ambulance at Villa Azul on May 26, 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The slum remains isolated by authorities after 92 people tested positive of COVID-19, according to Health Ministry of the Buenos Aires Province. Government-ordered lockdown was extended until June 07 due to increase in the number of positive cases. (Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images)
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - MAY 26: A woman wearing a face mask buys hand sanitizer at a store on May 26, 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The government-ordered lockdown was extended until June 07 due to an increase in the number of positive cases. (Photo by Ricardo Ceppi/Getty Images)
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"Our region has become the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic," Etienne said, as other PAHO directors warned there are "very tough" weeks ahead for the region and Brazil has a long way to go before it will see the pandemic end.

Also of concern to WHO officials are accelerating outbreaks in Peru, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

As Brazil's daily death rate became the world's highest on Monday, a University of Washington study warned that the country's total death toll could climb five-fold to 125,000 by early August.

The forecast from the university's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) came with a call for lockdowns that Brazil's right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, has resisted.

The current data projects Covid-19 deaths in Peru totaling nearly 20,000 by August, IHME said, indicating demand is likely to outstrip of the supply of beds in intensive care units.

The latest IHME model projections see deaths rising to nearly 12,000 in Chile, 7,000 in Mexico, 6,000 in Ecuador, 5,500 in Argentina and to 4,500 in Colombia by August.

One country in the region doing relatively well against Covid-19 is Cuba, where the IHME forecasts a death toll of just 82 by August while testing continues to outpace the outbreak.

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