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US imposes Covid-19 travel ban on Brazil visitors, excluding Americans

US imposes Covid-19 travel ban on Brazil visitors, excluding Americans
The White House has banned foreign nationals who visited Brazil in the last two weeks from seeking entry to the United States, after the number of coronavirus cases there soared to world’s second, after the US.

The move would ensure that “foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country,” US President Donald Trump's press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement on Sunday.

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The newly-unveiled measure will affect only the movement of people, and not goods, McEnany said.

“These new restrictions do not apply to the flow of commerce between the United States and Brazil”

The ban, which is similar to the one the Trump administration imposed on foreign arrivals from China early February, comes as South America has become the new hotspot of the deadly disease and shortly after Brazil climbed to the second place in the number of confirmed infections, trailing only the US itself.

Brazil has signalled that it would not argue with the measure, with Filipe Martins, an advisor on international affairs to Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, noting that the US has “followed previously established quantitative parameters” when coming with the travel ban.

 “There is nothing specific against Brazil. Ignore the hysteria in the media," Martins tweeted.

Brazil reported some 363,211 coronavirus cases on Sunday after adding over 15,800 infections in a single day, according to the country’s health ministry. The new figures mean Brazil has widened its lead from Russia, which currently has over 344,000 confirmed cases and where the outbreak has been slowing down, while the testing has been ramped up.

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With Brazil climbing to the near-top of the global coronavirus chart, Bolsonaro has come increasingly under fire for allegedly flouting the social distancing guidelines put out by the Brazil health ministry.

On Saturday, Bolsonaro was spotted eating out at the country’s capital, Brasília. Videos that have circulated on social media show him buying a hot dog and a bottle of coke from a street vendor and then feasting on the treats right on the spot.

The sight of Bolsonaro (who was donning a mask, but pushed it down for the occasion) devouring his food and sipping from the can, has sparked immediate backlash and saw many accusing the president of setting a bad example amidst a health crisis.

Bolsonaro’s supporters have dismissed the incident as a nothingburger, accusing the president’s detractors of overreacting, while pointing to his still relatively high approval rating, which, however, has slipped some 9 points since January, dropping to below 40 percent this month.

The Brazilian leader, dubbed “Trump of the Tropics” has consistently opposed strict coronavirus restrictions, accusing his opponents of exaggerating the crisis for political gain early in the outbreak. The outspoken critic of lockdowns, Bolsonaro even fell victim to a Twitter purge late March. In an unprecedented move, the platform yanked several of the Brazilian leader's posts in which he was taking aim at local authorities for ordering non-essential businesses to close.

With the pandemic sweeping through the country, Bolsonaro said earlier this week he would sign off on a federal assistance program to distribute 60 billion reais ($10.72 billion) to territories, worst-hit by the crisis.

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