RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AFP)— Brazil passed the bleak milestone of one million coronavirus cases Friday, reporting a new one-day record number of infections as the pandemic continues to surge in Latin America’s largest country.

The health ministry said it had recorded 54,771 new infections, a jump it said was largely due to “instability” in its reporting system during the week, which meant some states were reporting figures from multiple days at once.

That brought the total number of infections in Brazil to 1,032,913, with 48,954 deaths – second only to the United States worldwide.

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

Despite the grim figures, the infection curve in Brazil is finally showing signs of flattening.

But the country of 212 million people has emerged as one of the most worrying hotspots in the pandemic.

Since the start of June, it has registered the most new infections and deaths of any country in the world, according to an AFP count based on official figures – more than 518,000 and 19,000, respectively.

It has recorded daily death tolls of more than 1,000 on each of the past four days.

Brazil has struggled to set a strategy for dealing with the pandemic.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who has famously compared the virus to a “little flu,” has clashed with state and local authorities over their use of stay-at-home measures and business closures to contain it.

He argues that strategy is needlessly hurting the economy, which the World Bank forecasts will have a record eight-per cent recession this year.