Brazil reports 18,479 new COVID-19 cases

Brazil on Sunday registered 18,479 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its national count to 7,484,285, the country’s health ministry said.

Meanwhile, 344 more COVID-19 deaths were recorded, raising the death toll to 191,139, it said.

The state of Sao Paulo, the most populous in the country, has been hardest-hit, with 1,426,176 cases and 45,863 deaths, followed by Rio de Janeiro, with 421,069 cases and 24,918 deaths.

The city of Sao Paulo announced over the weekend the prohibition of non-essential activities on Jan. 1-3 to avoid crowds during the New Year holiday.

In Rio de Janeiro, the country’s main tourist destination, traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations on Copacabana Beach, which usually attract millions of visitors each year, have been suspended.

Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, according to a statement released by his office.

The result was confirmed Sunday afternoon and the vice president will remain in isolation at his official residence, the statement said.

The Latin American nation has the world’s second highest COVID-19 death toll, second only to the United States, and the third largest caseload, after the United States and India.