Brazil's coronavirus death toll has surpassed 80,000, according to health ministry figures, as the country hit second-hardest in the world continued struggling to control the pandemic.

The figure, second only to the death toll in the US, has quadrupled in two months. Brazil passed the mark of 20,000 Covid-19 deaths on 21 May.

Recently, the Latin American country of 212 million people has regularly registered more than 1,000 new deaths a day - though the figure for Monday was lower, at 632, bringing its overall death toll to 80,120.

The country has confirmed 2.1 million total infections.

Experts say under-testing means the real numbers are probably much higher.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who is infected himself, faces criticism for downplaying the virus and urging state governors to reopen their economies despite health officials' recommendations.

The far-right leader is currently in quarantine, along with several infected members of his cabinet. But he previously defied state authorities' stay-at-home measures, whose economic impact he argues could be more damaging than the virus itself.

Mr Bolsonaro, who famously compared the virus to a "little flu", regularly hit the streets with no face mask until he got infected, shaking hands and taking pictures with supporters at rallies.

Like US President Donald Trump, whom he admires, Mr Bolsonaro touts the anti-malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as promising treatments, and is taking the latter himself, despite a lack of evidence of their effectiveness against Covid-19.

The World Health Organization said on Friday the outbreak in Brazil appears to have finally reached a plateau.

There is "an opportunity here now for Brazil... to suppress the transmission of the virus," said WHO health emergencies chief Michael Ryan, urging the country to "take control".

Though the level of daily deaths and infections has stabilised, it remains high.

On average, Brazil has registered more than 1,040 new deaths and 33,000 new infections a day over the past week.

Only the US has more infections and deaths than Brazil in the pandemic, with 3.8 million and 140,811, respectively.

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The WHO has said there have been more than 14.34 million global Covid-19 cases with the death toll over 603,000.

Trump backs face masks

President Donald Trump has changed his tune in favour of face masks as a tool to combat the coronavirus in the US.

Despite rising hopes for a vaccine, there are few options available to combat the spread of Covid-19, though they do include face masks, which Mr Trump and his political allies refused to encourage for months.

But he changed direction yesterday, tweeting a photo of himself wearing a mask with the message: "We are United in our effort to defeat the Invisible China Virus, and many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask when you can't socially distance."

"There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favourite President!"

US authorities are struggling to handle the crisis as infections surge towards four million, with more than 140,000 deaths, and Mr Trump has been slammed for his management of the crisis.

The president is scrambling to respond to public anger just over 100 days from the November election, with the human toll rising and the US economy devastated.

Tens of millions of Americans have been left jobless, and the extra unemployment benefits keeping some from poverty are set to expire at the end of July.

Meanwhile, Florida's main teachers union is suing Governor Ron DeSantis and other authorities to stop schools from reopening in August, as the state has become a US epicentre of the pandemic.

The Florida Education Association, which represents 140,000 teachers, says the state constitution asserts that schools must provide a "safe and secure" environment, but that the Covid-19 resurgence "is remarkable and out of control".

Florida reported 10,347 new Covid-19 cases and 90 deaths yesterday, bringing the total death toll to 5,072.

More than 9,500 novel coronavirus patients have been hospitalised and just 18% of intensive care beds are available, officials say.

The United States yesterday recorded more than 60,000 new cases of coronavirus infection for the seventh consecutive day, Johns Hopkins University reported in its real-time tally.

With another 488 deaths and 61,288 cases registered in 24 hours, the country has a total of 140,922 deaths and 3.82 million cases, the Baltimore-based university said.