U.S. President Donald Trump is suspending travel from Brazil, which has the world's second highest number of coronavirus cases.
The White House says the president is taking this “decisive action … to help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country.” It will take effect late Thursday.
The decision applies to foreigners who want to come to the United States and have been in Brazil during the last 14 days, the period during which health experts say someone can have COVID-19 and infect others without showing any symptoms. The president has similarly banned travel from China, the United Kingdom and Europe.
Permanent U.S. residents and their immediate families are exempt along with what Trump calls the “free flow of commerce.”
As of Sunday, Brazil had more than 347,000 COVID-19 cases – the second-highest number after the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has for months played down the seriousness of the coronavirus, urging businesses to reopen and dismissing many social distancing recommendations.
He has brushed off the virus as nothing more than “a little flu” and says a wrecked economy will kill more people than the illness. He has called Brazilians worried about the coronavirus neurotic.
But some Brazilian health care experts warn that the system to treat people is falling apart and that the number of victims has yet to peak. They also say the death toll among the country’s indigenous population is twice that of everyone else.