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Brazil's Christ The Redeemer Lit Up With Flags Of Countries Battling Coronavirus

The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was lit up with the flags of countries currently afflicted by the coronavirus.
Silvia Izquierdo

Brazil's famed Christ the Redeemer statue was lit up with the flags of countries that have reported positive coronavirus tests, as cases of the virus spread around the world.

The giant statue of Jesus Christ, which stands nearly 100 feet tall and overlooks the city of Rio de Janeiro, also showed images of the continents afflicted. Images of the words "pray together" in many languages were also projected onto the statue on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, Brazil's government announced that the statue would be closed to visitors for at least a week, as The Associated Press reported. The statue is a popular destination for tourists looking for sweeping views of the city.

Brazil has at least 621 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to a dashboard created by the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering. And Brazil's Health Minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, is warning that the virus is spreading "en masse" through much of the country, according to Reuters.

The government has been slow to acknowledge the threat of the virus, as NPR's Philip Reeves reported from Rio. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro had called the threat of the virus exaggerated and has recently shared handshakes and selfies with supporters.

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro seemed to change his tune, appearing on TV and warning Brazilians to brace for tough times ahead. At least 18 Brazilian government officials have tested positive for the virus, Reeves added.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.