Brazil's count of COVID-19 deaths has surpassed 150,000 despite signs the pandemic is slowly retreating in Latin America's largest nation.
The Brazilian health ministry on Saturday reported the death toll was 150,198. The figure is the world's second highest behind the United States, according to the tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University.
The milestone has rekindled the pain of Naiane Moura, a sales consultant, who lost her father Elivaldo to COVID-19 in April. The 58-year-old postman had no prior illness and battled COVID-19 for seven days in a public hospital in Manaus, Brazil's largest city in the Amazon.
"When I see 150,000, I see my father alongside many other faceless bodies," Moura said by phone. "I didn't imagine that we would reach that number. I don't believe that we will ever be able to totally overcome this."
Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro played down the severity of the virus while deaths mounted rapidly in Brazil. The 65-year-old president flouted social distancing at lively demonstrations and encouraged crowds during outings from the presidential residence.
Bolsonaro rejected governors' and mayors' lockdowns and other tough measures to contain the virus' spread, even after he contracted it himself in July, and insisted that shutting down Brazil's economy would pitch the nation into chaos.
"Life goes on. Brazil needs to produce," he said on July 7 in Brasilia when he announced he was infected.
There have been recent signs of relief in Brazil. In the past month and a half, the viral curve has dropped. The average number of deaths sat at 598 in the past seven days, the lowest level since the beginning of May.
The mayors of large cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro continue to reopen activities such as cinemas and schools, even as public health experts warn of possible new outbreaks.