The Latest: Brazil health officials urge lockdowns, curfews

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Hairdresser Ute Augustin colors hair of a customer at a barber shop in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Monday, March 1, 2021. Hairdressers across Germany have reopened for business this morning after a more than 2-month closure, another cautious step as the country balances a desire to loosen restrictions with concern about the impact of more contagious coronavirus variants. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

SAO PAULO — Brazilian health officials are urging nationwide lockdowns and curfews because hospitals are running short of intensive-care unit beds as COVID-19 claims more than 1,000 lives each day in the country.

“The return of the pandemic in several states is making their private and their public assistance networks collapse and has brought imminent risk of spreading it to all regions of Brazil,” Brazil’s National Council of Health Secretaries said Monday in an open letter, adding that the nation is experiencing its worst moment since the pandemic began.

Last week was Brazil’s deadliest of the pandemic, with 8,244 deaths from the virus.

The letter from the council, which represents the nation’s 27 health secretaries, suggested lockdowns in cities where no ICU beds are available and in the rest, curfews between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Less than 4% of Brazil’s population has been vaccinated against COVID-19. Almost 260,000 people have died from the disease in the South American country.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— Calls grow for pharmaceutical companies to share vaccine know-how and technology more broadly to meet global shortfall