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Cemetery workers exhume remains buried three years ago at the Vila Formosa cemetery, which does not charge families for the gravesites, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, yesterday. Andre Penner/AP/Press Association Images
Death Toll

Brazil digs up bones to make space in graveyards for Covid-19 victims as death toll hits almost 42,000

The country now has the second highest death toll from Covid-19 behind the United States.

BRAZIL HAS RECORDED 41,828 deaths during the coronavirus pandemic, surpassing the UK’s death toll, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Officials in Brazil reported 909 deaths yesterday. It is the hardest-hit Latin American nation with more than 828,000 confirmed virus cases.

The country now has the second highest death toll from Covid-19 behind the United States, figures from Johns Hopkins University suggest.

Brazil’s biggest city, Sao Paulo, is to free up space at its graveyards during the pandemic by digging up the bones of people buried in the past and storing their bagged remains in large metal containers.

The remains of people who died at least three years ago will be exhumed and put in numbered bags, then stored temporarily in 12 storage containers the city’s funeral service has purchased.

The containers will be delivered to several cemeteries within 15 days, a statement said.

Sao Paulo is one of the Covid-19 hot spots, with 5,480 deaths as of Thursday in the city of 12 million people.

Health experts are worried about a new surge now that a decline in intensive care bed occupancy to about 70% prompted Mayor Bruno Covas to authorise a partial reopening of business this week.

The peak of infection is predicted to hit Brazil in August, having spread from the big cities where it first appeared into the nation’s interior.

brazil-brasilia-covid-19-drive-through-test A citizen receives a coronavirus test at a drive-through testing site in Brasilia, Brazil, yesterday. Xinhua News Agency / PA Images Xinhua News Agency / PA Images / PA Images

Dr Michael Ryan, the World Health Organization’s emergencies chief, said: “Overall the health system is still coping in Brazil, although, having said that, with the sustained number of severe cases that remains to be seen.

“Clearly the health system in Brazil across the country needs significant support in order to sustain its effort in this regard. But the data we have at the moment supports a system under pressure, but a system still coping with the number of severe cases.”


Meanwhile, Beijing authorities have closed the city’s largest wholesale food market after the discovery of seven cases in the previous two days.

The Xinfadi market, which has 4,000 tenants, will be disinfected after workers tested positive and the virus was found in the environment, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

China’s National Health Commission said six new cases were confirmed in Beijing yesterday, and another case was reported on Thursday. They are the first locally transmitted cases in the Chinese capital in more than 50 days.

Attention focused on the market after the discovery of the first three cases. Two of the infected people had been to the market, and the third worked with one of them at a meat research institute, according to Chinese media reports.

City officials said all the workers were being tested for coronavirus. They also ordered the testing of food and environmental samples from all the city’s wholesale food markets.

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