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Brazil threatens to follow U.S. pullout of WHO amid pandemic

Visitors wear face masks as they tour the Whitney Museum of American Art as it reopens on September 3. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

June 6 (UPI) -- Brazil has threatened to leave the World Health Organization over alleged bias as the South American country recorded the the second-highest number of cases of the coronavirus.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced the threat weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump cut U.S. ties with WHO.

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Bolsonaro said the specialized agency of the United Nations in charge of international public health has "ideological" bias.

"I'm telling you right now, the United States left the WHO, and we're studying that, in the future," the far-right leader told reporters. "Either the WHO works without ideological bias, or we leave, too."

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Similar to Trump, he has downplayed COVID-19's severity, attacked stay-at-home orders and touted unsubstantiated claims about benefits of malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.

Brazil recorded 1,005 new COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the country's death toll to 35,026, CNN reported.

Brazil also has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases worldwide at more than 600,000 cases, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The United States has reported nearly 1.9 million cases and more than 109,000 deaths.

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Cases have surged in Brazil and across Latin America recently, leading the WHO to report that Latin America has become the epicenter of the pandemic.

In India, COVID-19 cases are also surging.

India has surpassed Italy in the number of COVID-19 cases after the biggest single-day rise in confirmed infections.

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India's Health Ministry reported 9,887 new COVID-19 cases Saturday.

The number of COVID-19 cases in India has risen to 237,788, according to global data, and deaths from the virus has risen to 6,672.

China was the first country to diagnose COVID-19 in January after initially identifying the disease as pneumonia.

On Friday, China warned its citizens not to travel to Australia citing discrimination against Asians there.

"Recently, due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, racial discrimination and acts of violence against Chinese and Asians in Australia have increased significantly," a Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism statement read. "The Ministry of Culture and Tourism reminds Chinese tourists to raise their safety awareness and not to travel to Australia."

Australian Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham rejected the warning, Australia's public broadcaster, ABC, reported.

"We reject China's assertions in this statement, which have no basis in fact," Birmingham told ABC.

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China has 84,181 cases of COVID-19 and 4,638 deaths from the virus, according to global data. Australia has 7,255 cases and 102 deaths from the virus.

Meanwhile, in Peru, which has 187,400 cases and 5,162 COVID-19 deaths, the situation is worsening.

Peru lacks oxygen tanks and people are collapsing on the street from the virus, CNN reported.

Globally, COVID-19 has sickened more than 6.7 million people and killed more than 395,000 people.

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