Latin America virus cases top 1 mln as UK, Russia ease lockdowns
Confirmed coronavirus cases in Latin America have surged past one million, while hard-hit Britain and Russia eased lockdowns on June 1, despite not having their outbreaks fully under control.
Governments around the world are moving to ease restrictions that have wrecked their economies, even as the number of cases tops 6.1 million and virus deaths exceed 371,000.
With more than half a million known infections, Brazil now has the second-highest caseload in the world, but its anti-lockdown President Jair Bolsonaro again defied social distancing recommendations on May 31.
Wearing no face mask, the far-right leader met a tightly packed group of supporters in the capital Brasilia as the crowd chanted "Myth! Myth! Myth!" -- echoing his dismissal of the virus threat.
Bolsonaro has been a staunch opponent of lockdowns as a tool for containing the coronavirus, saying they are unnecessary and harmful to the economy, but he has faced intense criticism from worried state authorities and angry citizens.
Despite his skepticism, the virus rages on in Brazil and other parts of South America, with the situation in Chile, Bolivia and Peru also worsening.
While South America and parts of Africa and Asia have only just started to feel the full force of the pandemic, hard-hit European countries have cautiously begun easing lockdowns as they seek a return to some form of normality.
But experts have cautioned that moving too fast could spell disaster, with no vaccine or effective treatment yet for COVID-19.
In Britain, where schools were set to partially re-open on June 1, some senior government advisers warned things were happening too rapidly.
"COVID-19 spreading too fast to lift...