Brazil has recorded almost 20,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus in a single day for the first time, health authorities announced Wednesday.

Authorities said 19,951 new cases were detected, bringing the total to 291,579 since the outbreak began.

A further 888 people died, bringing the official death toll up to 18,859.

On Tuesday another grim milestone was reached – the number of people who died from the virus in a day surpassed 1,000.

The number of cases reported in the country is usually highest mid-week, as laboratories resume full testing capacity after the weekend.

The overall number of undetected cases in the country is likely to be higher than official figures show, due to a lack of testing and a delay in processing lab results.

Brasil, the most populous country in Latin America, has the third highest number of infections globally, behind the US and Russia, and the sixth highest number of deaths, according to data collected by the US-based Johns Hopkins university.

Sao Paulo, the most populous city in the country, has recorded 5,363 deaths, which is more than China, where the disease outbreak began in December.

On Wednesday a “mega-holiday” began in the city and will run until Monday, after local authorities brought forward several holidays from other months.

Trends show that on weekends and holidays, more residents are able to comply with the restrictions on public life, and the city hopes the six-day holiday will slow the spread of the virus.

According to a report by Brazilian media outlet G1, the day began with less car traffic than usual, but shops were open and people were out on the streets.

Source: dpa/MIA