CNN  — 

Brazil has now reported more than 1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and 48,954 deaths, marking a grim milestone for the South American country.

The health ministry on Friday reported 54,771 new cases, a record daily spike that brought the nationwide total to 1,032,913.

The Covid-19 pandemic is quickly spreading with no sign of slowing down, as major cities lift social distancing measures and begin reopening restaurants, shops and other nonessential businesses.

Many experts believe the number of cases could surpass the United States and that Brazil may soon become the country worst hit by the virus.

Despite this, President Jair Bolsonaro continues to downplay the threat by questioning global medical authorities and accusing opponents of trying to discredit his leadership.

Bolsonaro’s false sense of immunity

At first, Brazil seemed impervious to the virus as it spread through countries such as China, Italy and the United States. Bolsonaro only grudgingly agreed to repatriate Brazilian citizens from the then-epicenter, Hubei province, reportedly worrying that they would put the rest of the country at risk.

The first case was confirmed on February 26, when it was believed to be an isolated case of a man who flew back from Italy to Sao Paulo with the virus. A month later, coronavirus cases in Brazil had already risen to close to 3,000 and the death toll was at 77.