FILE IMAGE. A health worker shows the syringe to a woman after applying a dose of Sinovac’s vaccine against COVID-19 in Cacique de Ramos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 8, 2021. REUTERS / Ricardo Moraes

BRASILIA, Sept 23 (Reuters) – Brazil reported 24,611 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and 648 deaths, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

The South American country has registered 21,308,178 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 592,964, according to data from the Ministry, in the third worst outbreak in the world behind the United States and India and the second most lethal after the United States.

As vaccination progresses, the 7-day moving average of COVID deaths has fallen to less than a fifth of the nearly 3,000 per day figure at the peak of the pandemic in April.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle. Edited in Spanish by Rodrigo Charme)