Brazil has found new use for several of the stadiums it built and renovated in preparation for the 2014 World Cup. Local governments plan to convert the venues into hospitals and vaccine centers for what is expected to be a surge of novel coronavirus cases.

The country’s most famous stadium, the iconic Maracanã sports complex in Rio de Janeiro, will become a temporary hospital. The Maracanã stadium held the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympics and is among the best-known soccer stadiums in the world. It first was used for the 1950 World Cup, and authorities have not decided how many beds it will hold or whether they will be placed on the playing field or elsewhere in a complex that also houses a track and field stadium and an aquatic park.

Work has begun to convert Sao Paulo’s Pacaembu Stadium, which wasn’t used during the World Cup. It can seat 45,000 and is expected to provide more than 200 beds. The stadium, where Pelé played for Santos, is near several hospitals in the country’s largest city and is expected to treat less-serious cases.

Brasilia’s Mané Garrincha Stadium, controversial for its more than $700 million renovation, rarely has been used since the World Cup, and its administrator recently signed an agreement to convert it into a temporary health center.

Brazil’s covid-19 cases approached 4,000 last week, the Associated Press reported Sunday, with more than 100 deaths. Although President Jair Bolsonaro has sought to downplay the severity of the illness, Brazilians were demanding tough measures: A Datafolha poll this month found that 73 percent of those surveyed supported total social distancing. Bolsonaro told reporters last week that he believes Brazilians are protected by natural immunity.

“The Brazilian needs to be studied. He doesn’t catch anything. You see a guy jumping into sewage, diving in, right? Nothing happens to him,” he said. “I think a lot of people were already infected in Brazil, weeks or months ago, and they already have the antibodies that help it not proliferate. I’m hopeful that’s really a reality.”

Brazil’s first two qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup were postponed, and domestic competitions were suspended.