RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s economy contracted a record 9.7% in the second quarter from the previous three-month period amid the coronavirus pandemic, the national statistics institute reported Tuesday.

It was the second consecutive quarter of a decline in the country’s gross domestic product, which is widely considered to be a recession.

The decrease in the April-June period was the largest quarterly drop since 1996. However, some economists and the president of the Central Bank of Brazil speculated weeks ago that the fall could be greater, even up to 11%.

“The good part of the news is that although the fall is very large, it allows us to see possibilities of a rebound in the next quarter,” said Gilberto Braga, an economist and professor at Ibmec, a private Brazilian research university.

Braga said trends indicate Brazil could see growth of around 0.5% in the third quarter.

Brazil has confirmed more than 3.9 million coronavirus infections, with 121,000 deaths. President Jair Bolsonaro has consistently argued that the economic impact of lockdowns and other measures during the pandemic would be more damaging for Brazil than COVID-19 itself.

Financial institutions surveyed by the Central Bank of Brazil projected Monday that the economy would have a 5.28% contraction for all of 2020. That is a more favorable outlook than a month earlier, when they forecast a drop of 6.5%.