Latin America & Caribbean

In pictures: How coronavirus swept through Brazil

Aerial picture showing a burial taking place in the Amazon in Brazil Image copyright Getty Images

Brazil's coronavirus outbreak is one of the world's most severe, with more than 2m cases recorded since March.

In fact, it is the second worst affected country behind the US. More than 74,000 people have died with the virus there and, owing to a lack of testing, the true figures are believed to be even higher.

Here, we illustrate how the pandemic has played out in the South American country.

Short presentational grey line

The outbreak took some time to reach Brazil and it was the Amazonas region which was badly hit by the first wave of cases.

In the state capital Manaus, a man can be seen arranging coffins at a funeral parlour.

An employee at Viana Funeral services arranges coffins during the coronavirus pandemic in Manaus Image copyright Getty Images

Officials warned that the stock of coffins in the region was likely to run out. They were forced to dig large burial sites as deaths spiked, and poverty and malnutrition made tackling the virus in the heart of the Amazon rainforest a major challenge.

Indigenous communities have been among the worst affected by the virus and Manaus is home to a large proportion of them.

Many of their homes are situated far away from health facilities. On the outskirts of the city, nurse Vanderlecia Ortega dos Santos, responded to the crisis by volunteering to care for her indigenous community of 700 families.

Vanderlecia puts on personal protective equipment Image copyright Reuters

And here, people can be seen moving a coffin in a rural community in the northern state of Pará. It was later buried in a cemetery at the mouth of the Amazon river.

Gravediggers wearing protective clothing carry the coffin of a victim of the coronavirus Image copyright Getty Images

But it was not long before the virus spread to major cities such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Cases then began to rise sharply.

In May, São Paulo's mayor warned that its underfunded health system was on the verge of collapse as it became a new hotspot for Covid-19. He said demand for hospital beds had skyrocketed.

This hospital, built inside a sports gym in the city, is one of many makeshift facilities that opened up.

Covid-19 patients are treated inside the Pedro Dell'Antonia Campaign Hospital in Sao Paulo Image copyright Getty Images

But despite the rise in cases there was still no national lockdown. States and cities adopted their own measures, but these were met by protests and data later showed that compliance lessened as time went on.

Stay-at-home orders and other restrictions were criticised by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who denounced them as "dictatorial". He even joined anti-lockdown protests in the capital, Brasilia.

This image shows supporters of the president at a separate demonstration in Rio de Janeiro.

Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro throw water balloons during a protest against lockdown measures Image copyright Getty Images

Mr Bolsonaro has repeatedly played down the risks of what he calls "little flu" and his response to the pandemic has been heavily criticised.

He has argued that regional lockdowns are having a more damaging effect than the virus itself, and accused the media of spreading panic and paranoia.

The president has also been spotted meeting supporters while not wearing a mask, such as here in Brasilia.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro meets supporters during a protest in favour of the government and against the lockdown Image copyright Getty Images

And while many people share his concerns about the economic impact of lockdowns, health officials have disagreed with his approach. In fact, two doctors have left their posts as health minister since the pandemic began, one was sacked, one resigned.

Mr Bolsonaro also said he would not be seriously affected by the virus. "I'm not going to be brought down by a little flu," he said in March. That's been put to the test, as earlier this month he tested positive for Covid-19.

This image shows the president meeting the US ambassador Todd Chapman the day before he said he started to feel symptoms. The pair were seen shaking hands, and Mr Chapman later went into quarantine.

President Jair Bolsonaro (L) and US Ambassador to Brazil Todd Chapman Image copyright AFP

On 20 June, Brazil became only the second country to pass one million cases and that number has continued to rise steadily. Experts say it is likely much higher due to a lack of testing.

But lockdowns were lifted even as cases surged. In Rio and São Paulo, restaurants and bars were reopened despite the continued increase in transmissions.

Customers enjoy a bar in Tijuca neighbourhood on the second day after the opening of bars and restaurants Image copyright Getty Images

The rise in cases and the relaxation of lockdown measures left some Brazilians feeling as though they needed to take matters into their own hands.

And one couple took extreme measures to keep safe.

A chronic lung disease means that accountant Tercio Galdino, 66, is at high risk from Covid-19. He and his wife wear special outfits when out and about in Rio de Janeiro. And, as an added bonus, the outfit lets him celebrate his love of space.

Tercio Galdino, 66, wears his protective "space suit" inside his house Image copyright AFP

There is some hope, however, two major vaccine tests, in partnership with the pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Sinovac, will soon begin final phase testing on thousands of Brazilian volunteers.

The hope is that a breakthrough on this front could help Brazil reverse its worrying rise in cases and deaths. This striking image shows a cemetery in Manaus where new graves have been dug during the pandemic.

Aerial view showing graves in the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Brazil Image copyright Getty Images

All images subject to copyright.

More on this story