Latin America emerges as new Covid-19 epicentre

Brazil’s health ministry has announced there are curently 330,890 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the South American country, topping Russia. 

Previously holding the spot of the second-highest number of cases in the world, Russia had still sat well behind the United States who has more than 1.5 million cases on the Johns Hopkins University tally.

Brazil has reported 1001 deaths over the previous 24 hours, bringing its total death toll to more than 21,000. It is the hardest hit nation in Latin America.

The news came as states and cities across Brazil debate whether to loosen restrictive measures introduced to limit the spread of the virus, or implement stricter lockdowns.

While the mayor of Rio de Janeiro said he wants to gradually reopen non-essential shops in the next few days, a local newspaper reported that Sao Paulo was reevaluating its previously announced plans to reopen commerce and instead may enter lockdown.

This comes as President Vladimir Putin announced the coronavirus outbreak in Russia has begun to abate, creating a positive environment for easing restrictions. 

Russian officials have defended the country's data on deaths despite claims they were being under-reported.

Russia moves down to third in the world for the number of coronavirus infections with 326,448 cases, including 3249 deaths.