Brazil has removed from public view months of data on Covid-19 in the country, as President Jair Bolsonaro defended delays and changes to official record-keeping on what is the world's second-largest outbreak.

Brazil's Health Ministry removed the data from a website that had documented the epidemic over time and by state and municipality.

The ministry also stopped giving a total count of confirmed cases, which have shot past 672,000 – more than anywhere outside the United States – or a total death toll, which passed Italy this week, nearing 36,000 yesterday.

"The cumulative data ... does not reflect the moment the country is in," Mr Bolsonaro said on Twitter, citing a note from the ministry. "Other actions are under way to improve the reporting of cases and confirmation of diagnoses."

Jair Bolsonaro has played down the pandemic

Mr Bolsonaro has played down the dangers of the pandemic, replaced medical experts in the Health Ministry with military officials and argued against state lockdowns to fight the virus, hobbling the country's public health response.

Neither Mr Bolsonaro nor the ministry gave a reason for erasing most of the data on the website, which had been a key public resource for tracking the pandemic.

The page was taken down on Friday and reloaded yesterday with a new layout and just a fraction of the data.

Late on Saturday, the ministry reported 27,075 new confirmed infections and 904 related deaths since its Friday update. 

The global death toll due to the coronavirus is nearing 400,000, with fatalities accelerating in Latin America.

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National governments globally are becoming increasingly focused on repairing the economic damage - with even hard-hit European countries now opening their borders and allowing people to return to work.

However, the search for a treatment for the virus still appears a long way from success.

Late on Friday, a study from Oxford University based on clinical trials concluded that hydroxychloroquine - a malaria drug championed as a treatment by Mr Bolsonaro and US President Donald Trump - showed "no beneficial effect" in treating Covid-19.

The virus has infected 6.8 million people around the world, representing the worst health crisis in more than a century, and has tipped the global economy into a crushing downturn forcing tens of millions out of work in the United States alone.

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The US is the world's hardest-hit nation, with over 109,000 dead and nearly 1.9 million infections.

However, Mr Trump said the economy was bouncing back.

"We had the greatest economy in the history of the world. And that strength let us get through this horrible pandemic, largely through, I think we're doing really well," he told reporters.

Mr Trump, who is facing re-election in November, reiterated his calls to further ease stay-at-home measures.

In Europe, badly-hit countries slowly continued on a path toward a post-pandemic normal, also seeking to revive key tourist sectors in time for the summer season.

The European Union said it could reopen borders to travellers from outside the region in early July, after some countries within the bloc reopened to European visitors.

A major Spanish tourism draw, Madrid's Prado museum, reopened its doors to a handful of visitors on Saturday, putting together more than 200 masterpieces in a new exhibition.

In France, the Palace of Versailles also reopened, but without the US and Chinese tourists that usually make up a third of its visitors.

A top French expert said on Friday that dramatic drops in daily deaths and new cases in the country since their March peaks meant the worst was over.