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By Sabrina Valle

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, Thurs. April 29, 2021 (Reuters) – A single Latin American nation is nearing 400,000 deaths from the dreaded COVID-19 virus, adding over 3,100 new deaths in a 24-hour period.

Brazil is on the verge of history this week after the Health Ministry on Wednesday reported 3,163 new COVID-19 deaths in 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 398,185.

Brazil is quickly catching up with the world’s worst death toll in the United States, which has seen more than 570,000 casualties in total but less than a thousand deaths per day in recent weeks.

Brazil’s COVID-19 crisis has spiraled out of control in recent months, with patchy restrictions on circulation and a highly contagious new virus variant driving infections.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right former army captain, has drawn harsh criticism for playing down the dangers of the virus, shunning masks and pushing unproven remedies.

Younger Brazilians are increasingly being affected by COVID-19, with those in their 20s showing the greatest increase in deaths so far this year, according to a report published by government biomedical institute Fiocruz last week.

Brazil’s Health Ministry also reported on Wednesday 79,726 new confirmed coronavirus cases, which now total 14,521,289.

(Reporting by Sabrina Valle; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)

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