The health system in Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo could collapse as demand grows for emergency beds to deal with Coronavirus cases, city mayor warned.
Bruno Covas said the city’s public hospitals had reached 90% capacity and could run out of space in two weeks.
He accused those who flouted lockdown rules of playing “Russian roulette” with people’s lives.
Record Coronavirus Deaths in São Paulo
São Paulo is one of the country’s worst-hit regions, with almost 3,000 deaths so far.
This week Brazil overtook Spain and Italy to become the nation with the fourth-largest number of infections.
The health ministry reported 7,938 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking the total above 241,000. Only the US, Russia and the UK have higher numbers.
The death toll in the Latin American nation over 24 hours was 485, meaning that the total number of deaths is 16,118 – the world’s fifth-highest figure.
Health experts in Brazil have warned that the real number of confirmed infections in the country may be far higher than the official records, due to a lack of testing.
The Mayor is calling for strict lockdown in São Paulo
Mr Covas said he was now in crisis talks with the state governor over introducing a strict lockdown measures to try to slow the contagion before hospitals were overwhelmed.
The governor of São Paulo state controls the police, and his support will be essential if a lockdown is to succeed.
Mr Covas called on the population to stay at home to stem the spread of the virus saying São Paulo needed to “slow down even more” to reduce contagion.
“It is hard to believe that some prefer the population to be subjected to Russian roulette. Indifference in the face of death is unseemly,” he said.
São Paulo has a population of about 12 million, and official figures show that the majority of residents have been flouting social distancing rules
President Bolsonaro’s criticised
From the early stage of coronavirus pandemic, President Bolsonaro continues to oppose lockdown measures, arguing that social distancing will only wreck the economy.
The leader has previously downplayed the virus as “little flu” and said that the spread of Covid-19 is inevitable.
Mr Bolsonaro joined protesters in April demanding that lockdown restrictions be lifted. He says the restrictions are damaging the country’s economy, bringing unemployment and hunger.
Brazilian Health Minister Nelson Teich resigned last week, after less than a month in the job. He stepped down after he had publicly criticised a decree by Mr Bolsonaro allowing gyms and beauty parlours to reopen. Mr Teich’s predecessor was sacked after disagreeing with Mr Bolsonaro.