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Brazil hits 1 million COVID-19 cases

Soldiers of the Brazilian army along with the federal police, the national force and health surveillance carry out sanitary controls at the border between the cities of Tabatinga, Brazil, and Leticia, Colombia, on Friday. Photo by Joedson Alves/EPA-EFE
Soldiers of the Brazilian army along with the federal police, the national force and health surveillance carry out sanitary controls at the border between the cities of Tabatinga, Brazil, and Leticia, Colombia, on Friday. Photo by Joedson Alves/EPA-EFE

June 20 (UPI) -- Brazil reported more than 54,000 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases in the country to more than 1 million Saturday.

Brazil's Health Ministry said the one-day increase of 54,000 cases was in part due to a lag in three states' reporting.

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The increase also is linked to a change in how cases are reported.

Earlier this month, Brazil's government removed data on COVID-19 cases and deaths from the Health Ministry's website over allegations that the numbers were inflated to secure more federal funds. A Supreme Court justice later ordered the government to stop hiding the data, so the website now shows the numbers.

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Cases have surged in Brazil and across Latin America recently, leading the World Health Organization to consider Latin America as the new epicenter of the pandemic.

Brazil has had 48,954 deaths from COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins University global tracker.

The country is second only to the United States in the number of cases and deaths.

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The United States has 2.2 million cases and 119,331 deaths from the virus.

President Donald Trump cut ties with the World Health Organization last month, alleging "malfeasance," of China, bias toward China and a "coverup" of COVID-19's origins.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has threatened to cut ties with WHO over similar concerns that the U.N. agency has "ideological" bias.

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Also, similar to Trump, Bolsonaro has downplayed COVID-19's severity, attacked stay-at-home orders and touted unsubstantiated claims about the benefits of malaria drug hydroxycholoroquine.

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

Since then, the country has reported 84,525 cases and 4,638 deaths from COVID-19.

The country largely controlled the outbreak with no new locally transmitted cases for 56 days. Recently, though, there has been a new outbreak in the Chinese capital. More than 180 people have been diagnosed in the new cluster of cases at the Xinfadi wholesale market. Beijing's schools have been closed and thousands of restaurant workers citywide lined up to get tested Thursday.

The hospital wait list for COVID-19 testing extends in some cases to September, Chinese investigative news outlet Caixin reported.

Travelers are required to show proof of testing negative for COVID-19 within seven days before boarding planes or trains out of Beijing.

Meanwhile, Chinese health authorities have released new guidelines for the public to prevent "splash contamination" of seafood by rinsing raw meat under the tap.

Fears over food transmitting the virus led to a boycott of imported salmon in China, but WHO and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it is "not aware of any evidence" that food can transmit COVID-19.

The customs department said it tested 47,812 samples of imported seafood, meat, vegetables and fruit between June 11-18, and the results were negative for the coronavirus.

Customs administration official Song Yueqian said Friday that China has agreed with the global experts that the risk of imported food transmitting the virus is low, and the country will not impose restrictions.

In Germany, a meatpacking plant was ordered to shut down Friday after hundreds of workers became infected.

According to the Business and Human Rights Resource Center, German slaughterhouses have been criticized in recent years for poor labor and housing conditions.

Germany now has 190,670 cases and 8,895 deaths from the virus, according to the global tracker.

Globally, COVID-19 has infected 8.69 million people and killed 460,594 people.

World moves to reopen amid COVID-19 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

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