Rio de Janeiro recorded more deaths than births for the 6th month in a row, as Brazil fails to contain its COVID-19 outbreak

  • The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro has recorded more deaths than births for six straight months.
  • Ten other Brazilian cities recorded more deaths than births in March.
  • Brazil has the second-most COVID-19 fatalities, and is recording thousands of new cases every day.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro has recorded more deaths than births for the sixth consecutive month, as the country struggles to contain its coronavirus outbreak.

City authorities reported a total of 36,437 deaths and 32,060 births in March, according to government data.

That same month, at least ten other Brazilian cities with populations exceeding 500,000 registered more deaths than births, according to CNN.

The proportion of those deaths that were a result of a COVID-19 infection was not immediately clear, but the highlight how badly the pandemic has affected the Brazilian population.

Brazil has recorded the second-highest death toll after the US. As of Tuesday, more than 358,000 people have died in Brazil have died as a result of COVID-19, according to a tracker from The New York Times.

President Jair Bolsonaro has largely shrugged off the impact of the virus, and his government has sought to conceal information about the true extent of the disaster. 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.Getty

On April 6, Brazil recorded over 4,000 COVID-19 deaths within a 24-hour period for the first time ever.

Intensive care units are above 90% capacity across most Brazilian states, The Associated Press reported Sunday, citing local data. Seven in 10 hospitals are close to running out of oxygen and anesthetic, the AP said.

The country has in the past dug mass graves for its coronavirus dead, with bodies pictured on the streets.

Bolsonaro has long refused to enforce a nationwide lockdown and previously said that the virus was a “little flu” about which people should “stop whining.”

Bolsonaro has defended his approach, and last week dismissed being called “genocidal” in his coronavirus response.

“They called me homophobic, racist, fascist, a torturer and now … what is it now? Now I am … someone who kills a lot of people? Genocidal. Now, I’m genocidal,” he said.

Even with large stocks of vaccines already ordered, Brazil has been slow to roll out shots to its 211 million citizens.

As of Wednesday morning, just 32 million shots have been administered, according to a tracker from the G1 Globo news outlet.

Bolsonaro has also cast doubt on the efficacy of vaccines, saying in December that taking the Pfizer shot could “turn people into crocodiles.”

Brazil had planned to vaccinate its population only with doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but it has ordered backup supplies of China’s CoronaVac vaccine, made by Sinovac Biotech, to try and bypass production delays.

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