Brazil has recorded more than 4,000 Covid-related deaths in 24 hours for the first time, as a more contagious variant fuels a surge in cases. Hospitals are overcrowded, with people dying as they wait for treatment in some cities, and the health system is on the brink of collapse in many areas. The country's total death toll is now almost 337,000, second only to the US. But President Jair Bolsonaro continues to oppose any lockdown measures to curb the outbreak. He argues that the damage to the economy would be worse than the effects of the virus itself, and has tried to revert some of the restrictions imposed by local authorities in the courts. To date, Brazil has recorded more than 13 million cases of coronavirus, according to the health ministry. Some 66,570 people died with Covid-19 in March , more than double the previous monthly record. What is the situation in the country? In most states, patients with Covid-19 are using more than 90% of intensive care unit beds though numbers have been stable since the past week, according to the health institute Fiocruz (in Portuguese). Several states have reported short supplies of oxygen and sedative. But despite the critical situation, some cities and states are already easing measures limiting the movement of people. What is the Brazil variant? Fiocruz says it has detected 92 variants of coronavirus in the country, including the P.1, or Brazil, variant, which has become a cause for concern because it is thought to be much more contagious than the original strain. The variant is thought to have emerged in Amazonas state in November 2020, spreading quickly in the state capital Manaus, where it accounted for 73% of cases by January 2021, according to figures analysed by researchers in Brazil. It has been linked to a spike in infections and deaths in a number of South American countries.