ASUNCION (Reuters) - Coronavirus cases passed the 7 million mark in Latin America on Thursday even as some countries begin to show a slight decline in infections in a region with the world’s highest level of contagion, according to a Reuters tally.
The daily average of cases fell to about 77,800 in the last seven days through Wednesday, against almost 85,000 the previous week, the tally based on government figures showed.
Six months since the first case was confirmed in Brazil, the country with the worst outbreak outside the United States reported on Thursday 44,235 new cases and 984 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 3,761,391 cases and the death toll from COVID-19 to 118,649.
Despite the alarming figures, Brazilian authorities maintain they are seeing a downward trend in new cases and a “plateau” in the number of daily deaths.
Mexican authorities said they were also seeing a sustained decline, although the World Health Organization (WHO) says the scale of the pandemic in Latin America’s second most populous nation has been underestimated.
The WHO said Mexico and other countries in the region need to increase testing and has expressed concern about the high level of coronavirus among young people.
Brazil, Peru, Mexico, Colombia and Chile remain among the 10 countries with the most cases in the world, in that order. With more than 28,000 deaths, Peru also has the highest per capita death rate from COVID-19 in the region.
Argentina, meanwhile, surpassed 10,000 daily cases on Wednesday for the first time since the pandemic broke out, and again on Thursday, a surge that has led the country to retighten lockdown measures in some provinces.
Argentina has reported a very high positivity rate above 40% of tested cases, one of the highest in the world along with Mexico and Bolivia.
Latin America’s increase from 6 million to 7 million occurred in 13 days, two more than the previous million mark.
Reporting by Daniela Desantis; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Tom Brown
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