Elderly people wait to have a rapid COVID-19 test in Brasilia, Brazil. File/AP
Brazil overtook Russia on Friday as the country with the second-highest number of coronavirus infections worldwide behind the United States, as the Americas emerged as a new epicentre of the pandemic.
The South American country has now registered 330,890 infections and 21,048 deaths from the new coronavirus, though experts say under-testing means the real figures may be 15 times higher or more.
Brazil's death toll rose by 1,001 in 24 hours, the third time in four days it has come in over 1,000.
The surge came as the World Health Organization declared South America "a new epicenter" of the pandemic.
"Clearly there is a concern across many of those countries, but clearly the most affected is Brazil at this point," said WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan.
The United States has registered more than 1.6 million cases and nearly 96,000 deaths, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.
Russia has registered 326,488 cases and 3,200 deaths.
Brazil's death toll is currently the sixth-highest in the world, behind the United States, Britain, Italy, Spain and France.
But the crisis is not expected to peak in Brazil until June.
The country of 210 million people has had a disjointed response to the pandemic.
Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who has famously compared the virus to a "little flu," condemns the stay-at-home measures imposed by state and local authorities, saying they are needlessly harming the economy.Agence France-Presse
At least 3,500,517 infections and 246,893 deaths have been recorded globally. Europe is the continent most affected with more than 1.5 million cases and over 143,000 fatalities.
Italy recorded the fewest deaths from coronavirus, 145, in one day since its two-month lockdown began, while Spain had 87 new virus-related deaths -- the first time the number has fallen below 100 in two months.
A total of 75,538 deaths have been recorded, including 53,928 in Europe, the continent worst hit by the virus. The official tallies probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of cases. Many countries are testing only the most serious cases.
With a total of 75,011 deaths from 909,673 infections, Europe is the hardest-hit continent in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed at least 109,133 people worldwide. Europe's most affected country is Italy with 19,468 deaths, followed by Spain with 16,972, France with 13,832 and Britain with 9,875.
Pakistan also reported 4,734 new virus cases, raising its overall infections to 93,983. With the latest 97 virus-related deaths, the highest 24-hour increase to its fatalities, as authorities urged volunteers to motivate people to adhere to social distancing regulations to contain the spread of the virus.
With the Hajj Committee announcing full refunds of the fees for the ensuing Hajj 2020 season, the pilgrimage dreams of thousands of Muslim faithful are shattered.
The group were travelling through Badakshan province to assist security forces in the area, officials said. A local commander was among the fatalities, provincial governor's spokesman Sanaullah Rohani told the media.