The Americas have emerged as the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization has said.

It comes as a US study forecast deaths surging in Brazil and other Latin American countries through August.

"Now is not the time for countries to ease restrictions," Carissa Etienne, WHO director for the Americas and head of the Pan American Health Organization, said via video conference.

The Americas have registered more than 2.4 million cases of the coronavirus and more than 143,000 deaths from the resulting Covid-19 respiratory disease.

Latin America has passed Europe and the United States in daily infections, she said.

"Our region has become the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic," Ms Etienne said, as other PAHO directors warned there are "very tough" weeks ahead for the region and Brazil has along way to go before it will see the pandemic end.

Accelerating outbreaks in Peru, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua are also of concern to WHO officials.

As Brazil's daily death rate became the world's highest yesterday, a University of Washington study warned that the country's total death toll could climb five-fold to 125,000 by early August.

The forecast from the university's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation came with a call for lockdowns that Brazil's right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro, has resisted.

The current data projects Covid-19 deaths in Peru totaling nearly 20,000 by August, IHME said, indicating demand is likely to outstrip of the supply of beds in intensive care units.

The latest IHME model projections see deaths rising to nearly 12,000 in Chile, 7,000 in Mexico, 6,000 in Ecuador, 5,500 in Argentina and to 4,500 in Colombia by August.

One country in the region doing relatively well against Covid-19 is Cuba, where the IHME forecasts a death toll of just 82 by August while testing continues to outpace the outbreak

Latest coronavirus stories

WHO expects hydroxychloroquine safety findings by mid-June

The WHO has said that a safety team would review data on hydroxychloroquine by next month, a day after officials cited safety concerns that prompted them to suspend use of the malaria drug in a global trial of Covid-19 patients.

The WHO called time on using the drug in its multi-country trial, called Solidarity, after a study published in British medical journal The Lancet found patients randomised to take hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) had increased mortality rates and higher frequency of irregular heartbeats.

US President Donald Trump and others have pushed HCQ as a possible treatment for the disease.

"A final decision on the harm, benefit or lack of benefit of hydroxychloroquine will be made once the evidence has been reviewed by the Data Safety Monitoring Board," the WHO said.

"This review will include data from the Solidarity Trial and other ongoing trials, as well as any evidence published so far. It is expected by mid-June."