The number of coronavirus deaths in Brazil has now surpassed half a million, the country’s health ministry has confirmed.

The number has risen to 500,800 after an increase of a further 2,301 fatalities in the past 24 hours.

Anti-government protests took place in cities across Brazil on Saturday as demonstrators blame the high number of deaths on President Jair Bolsonaro.

Thousands gathered in downtown Rio de Janeiro waving flags with slogans such as “500,000 deaths, it’s his fault” in reference to the Brazilian leader.

Another slogan read: “Get out Bolsonaro. Government of hunger and unemployment.”

Isabela Gouljor, a 20-year-old student who joined the protest in Rio de Janeiro, said: “Brazil is experiencing a great setback. The country was an exemplary country for vaccination in the world. We have widely recognized institutions, but today we are in a sad situation.”

Similar marches took place in at least 22 or Brazil’s 26 states, as well as in the Federal District, Brasilia.