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Colombia Tightens COVID-19 Restrictions at Border with Brazil

Women wash clothes at the Amazon river in Leticia, Colombia, on May 13, 2020, amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

Colombia launched new measures Thursday night aimed at stopping a rise in coronavirus infections near the border with Brazil.

President Iván Duque said residents in the Amazon region are instructed to stay home unless making essential trips for food or medical help.

The military has also dispatched troops to strengthen border security.

The latest restrictions are aimed at helping Colombia's overwhelmed hospital system and to provide safeguards for the indigenous people of the Amazon region, where there has been a spike in COVID-19 cases.

The Associated Press says the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia reports 146 COVID-19 infections and six deaths among the population.

Duque said Colombia finds itself in a situation that could turn critical, given the differences, from an epidemiological viewpoint, with its neighbors.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro resisted anti-COVID measures and criticized many of the country's local leaders for closing businesses in Brazil, which has the highest COVID rate in Latin America.