Brazil's Covid-19 death toll has passed 200,000, the health ministry says, as daily new cases accelerated to a record of 87,843 after year-end holidays in the country with the world's second-deadliest outbreak.
Experts warn Brazil has still not seen the height of cases resulting from people celebrating Christmas and New Year's with friends and family.
Others, including President Jair Bolsonaro, booked their regular beach vacations at the height of summer in the southern hemisphere.
Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said on Thursday the country is already in a second wave.
"It's a shame what happened in the summer. What we expect is that after January 15, we will unfortunately face a critical state again in hospitals," Rafael Deucher, a doctor in Parana state, where 80 per cent of public intensive care beds are occupied, said.
Brazil’s vaccine program sill weeks away
Immunologists say various factors are likely to exacerbate the second wave.
Brazil is still at least three weeks away from beginning its vaccine campaign, according to the government, which has been widely criticised for not moving as quickly as other countries.
"People are tired and are no longer adhering to preventive measures due to psychological strain, but also due to the lack of a unified political discourse," Alexandre Naime, head of the department of infectious diseases at Universidade Estadual Paulista's faculty of medicine, said.
"There are many people who are against science and public health, against the mask, and in favour of big gatherings."
Brazil registered 1,524 additional deaths over the past 24 hours, according to health ministry data.
Since the outbreak began, nearly 8 million people have been infected, while 200,498 have died.
"We want to offer our solidarity to every family that lost loved ones," the ministry said in a statement.
Crowds flock to Brazil’s NYE parties
Many Brazilians have resisted quarantine for months, going to bars or small gatherings with friends, but there had been few large-scale parties, and they had been distant from each other, since the pandemic began.
The larger celebrations began after summer began in the southern hemisphere on December 21.
The night before New Year's Eve in Rio de Janeiro, thousands of people in bathing suits flocked to the iconic Ipanema Beach to party and drink in front of the sea.
It was one of many open-air parties along Brazil's vast coastline.
"The crowds were so big that you couldn't set foot on the beach," a maintenance worker at a luxurious apartment building across the street said.
“And it wasn't just at night; the beach was also crowded during the day. And no one wears a mask!”
A prominent youtuber organised a party near a river beach for hundreds of people in the state of Alagoas, in the northeast of the country.
Days later, the local press reported that 47 people, including guests and staff without masks, contracted Covid-19. At least two were admitted to intensive care units.
Police in the city of Bertioga on the São Paulo coast used tear gas to disperse a celebration in the early hours of New Year's Day.
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