Global report: Mexico and Brazil hit highest daily deaths as Germany spends big on recovery

By Alison Rourke and agencies

Mexico and Brazil have recorded their highest daily death tolls as the coronavirus epidemic shows now sign of abating in Latin America. It comes as Germany announced a massive spending package to reboot its post-lockdown economy.

Mexican health authorities reported 1,092 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday – double the country’s previous highest one-day toll. Daily infections were also at an all-time high of just under 4,000.

The country’s deputy health minister, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, attributed the sharp death-toll rise to the results of a new mortality committee dedicated to better identifying which deaths in the country were caused by the virus. 

“Over the past 20 or 25 days, we have had various cases that were slowly passed on to the registry, for various reasons,” he said. “A technical commission has specifically been carrying out complementary methods.” 

The country, the second-largest economy in Latin America, now has 101,238 known cases and 11,729 officially recorded deaths, though authorities have previously said the real number is higher. 

Brazil registered a record number of daily coronavirus deaths (1,350) for the second consecutive day and infections looked set to pass 600,000 on Thursday, just four days after passing 500,000. City and state authorities have moved aggressively to reopen businesses, including in Rio de Janeiro, where may shops opened for the first time in months on Tuesday.

Brazil and Mexico coronavirus infections as collated by Our World in Data.
Brazil and Mexico coronavirus infections as collated by Our World in Data. Photograph: Our World in Data

As Central and South America battled continued steep infection curves, Germany looked to shore up its battered lockdown economy, with a massive €130bn ($146bn) stimulus package.

Wide-ranging measures included temporarily cutting VAT from 19% to 16%, and handing out a €300 payment for each child. There will also be incentives to buy new cars and relief for highly indebted municipalities, paving the way for a fiscal programme that is substantially bigger than similar packages by other eurozone partners.

“The size of the package will reach €130bn for 2020 to 2021, €120bn of which will be borne by the federal government,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel. “We have an economic stimulus package, a package for the future and in addition, we’re now dealing with our responsibility for Europe and the international dimension.”

Unemployment rose to 6.3% in May and the fresh stimulus comes on top of a massive €1.1tr rescue package already agreed in March, comprising loan guarantees, subsidies and a beefed-up shorter-hours programme to avoid job cuts.

To fund the unprecedented package, parliament had approved new borrowing, marking a sea change in German economic policy, upending a financial crisis-era constitutional rule drastically limiting budget deficits.

China has said it will allow qualifying foreign carriers that are currently barred from flying to mainland China to conduct once-per-week flights into a city of their choosing from 8 June. The Civil Aviation Administration’s (CAAC) statement follows Washington’s move on Wednesday to ban Chinese passenger carriers from flying to the US from 16 June, in an apparent effort to pressure Beijing to lift its restrictions on American airlines.

The CAAC also said all airlines will be allowed to increase the number of international flights involving China to two per week if no incoming passengers on their flights test positive for Covid-19 for 3 consecutive weeks.

In other coronavirus developments:

  • China reported one new coronavirus case and four new asymptomatic Covid-19 cases for on Thursday. The National Health Commission said all five of the cases were imported, involving travellers from overseas.

  • Cases in California are on the rise after weeks of optimism that infections had slowed, raising fears that plans to reopen counties could accelerate transmission of the virus. It is one of 20 states to have seen a rise in the past five days.

  • Hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug promoted by Donald Trump, was ineffective in preventing infection in people exposed to the coronavirus, according to a widely anticipated clinical trial released on Wednesday.

  • Russia’s second biggest city of St Petersburg recorded a death rate last month 32% higher than last year, official data showed on Wednesday, suggesting that there may be more people dying of Covid-19 than are being reported. City authorities said issued 6,427 death certificates in May, compared to 4,875 in the same month last year. 

  • The European Union and China have cancelled a planned summit in Germany in September because of the coronavirus pandemic.