A university in Brazil is kicking off a massive testing program to see how many people are carrying the novel coronavirus as the number of confirmed infections accelerate in Latin America’s largest economy. #Coronavirus #Covid19 #CoronavirusBrasil
The research is starting in the Southern state of Rio Grande do Sul this week, according to a statement on the website of the Universidade Federal de Pelotas, which is leading the charge. The health ministry has requested the study be expanded to the rest of the country.
The idea is to test 18,000 people randomly to gather data that will show the real impact of the virus on the broad population and not just people with symptoms. The research will help assess the mortality rate, currently estimated at 3.5% for Brazil, by showing how many people are actually infected. It’s believed that as many as 60% of people who carry the virus show only mild symptoms or none at all, according to the statement.
Knowing the scale of the problem would allow the country to devise strategies to better fight the spread of the virus — which has already been a source of deep contention between the federal government and states.
Brazil has reported 6,836 confirmed cases and 241 deaths so far, with daily numbers climbing more steeply this week. The official data may not reflect the real impact of the pandemic, though.
Newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported there were tests still to be done on some 200 deaths in the state of Sao Paulo alone. The state, the hardest hit by the virus, has a backlog of 16,000 tests waiting to be processed, the newspaper said, citing the local government.
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