Washington DC/Rio de Janeiro, May 24 (efe-epa).- The president of the United States on Sunday prohibited the entry of foreign passengers coming from Brazil, the country hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic after the US.
The US is the country most affected by the novel coronavirus, with 1,640,630 cases and 97,599 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, followed by Brazil, with 363,211 cases and 22,666 deaths, according to the country’s health ministry.
The entry ban affects foreigners who have been in Brazil 14 days preceding their entry into US territory, but does not affect US citizens and permanent residents of the country, as well as those who meet exceptions provided by President Donald Trump’s administration.
“Today’s action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.
The decision will take effect from 23.59 Washington DC time (03.59 GMT) on May 28 and will remain in effect until the president rescinds it.
The White House suspension order said that “the potential for undetected transmission of the virus by infected individuals seeking to enter the United States from the Federative Republic of Brazil threatens the security of our transportation system and infrastructure and the national security.”
“The free flow of commerce between the United States and… Brazil remains an economic priority for the United States,” it added.
Trump has also prohibited arrivals from China, Iran and Europe from entering the US and in the wake of the pandemic, the US also closed land borders with Canada and Mexico to non-essential traffic.
A senior Trump administration official told EFE in a statement that between May 11-17, almost 1,800 travelers entered the country from Brazil and that each week more than 1,500 passengers arrive at US airports on flights from Brazilian territory.
Trump has spoken twice in the past two months with his Brazilian counterpart, Jair Bolsonaro, about their shared fight against COVID-19, the senior official said in the statement.
While deaths exceeded 22,000 in Brazil, Bolsonaro on Sunday once again challenged COVID-19 by participating in a demonstration of followers, in which he mixed with the crowd.
The president, who since the start of the pandemic has played down its importance considering it a “little flu,” mingled with the crowd without a mask, disobeying orders from the authorities that make its use mandatory to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
Almost unable to move among the crowds, Bolsonaro greeted several of the followers and even hugged and carried children in his arms.
Brazil on Sunday recorded 15,813 new infections in the past 24 hours, according to the latest data disclosed by the Ministry of Health, with 653 new deaths.
Sao Paulo, the richest and most populous state with some 46 million inhabitants, continues to be the epicenter of the pandemic in the country, registering 6,163 deaths and 82,161 confirmed cases. EFE-EPA