The White House announced a travel ban on the United States from Brazil due to the spread of the coronavirus in the most affected country in Latin America.
Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Sunday evening that the ban applies to all foreign nationals who were in Brazil within 14 days before traveling to WE.
McEnany presented it as a decision by US President Donald Trump to “protect our country.” Trump warned last week that he is considering restrictions on Brazil.
The president has already banned travel from the UK, Europe and China, all of which have been hit hard by the virus. The United States has the highest number of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and has recorded nearly 100,000 deaths.
Blow to Bolsonaro
The travel ban was a blow to right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who followed Trump in his approach to the pandemic, fighting calls for social distancing and touting unproven drugs. The office of the Brazilian president did not respond to a request for comment.
“The United States has a strong partnership with Brazil and we are working closely to mitigate the socio-economic and health impacts of COVID-19 in Brazil,” the US embassy in Brasilia said in a statement.
The new restrictions take effect on May 28, the embassy said.
Green card holders, close relatives of American citizens, and flight crew members, among others, would be exempt.
The Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called it a technical decision in the context of an “important bilateral collaboration” to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting US donations of $ 6.5 million and a new White House promise of 1,000 respirators.
McEnany further explained that the new restrictions would help ensure that foreign nationals do not introduce additional infections into the United States, but do not apply to trade flows between the two countries.
Earlier on Sunday, US national security adviser Robert O’Brien told CBS television’s Face the Nation program that he hoped this decision could be reconsidered at some point.
“We hope it will be temporary, but due to the situation in Brazil, we will take all necessary measures to protect the American people,” said O’Brien.
An adviser to the Brazilian president downplayed Trump’s decision, highlighting shared views on fighting the virus with unproven malaria drugs like hydroxychloroquine.
“There is nothing specific against Brazil,” tweeted Filipe Martins, Bolsonaro’s international affairs advisor.
Two hours earlier, he wrote that Trump had “opened a hotline for the exchange of information on the protocol for the use of hydroxychloroquine and other treatments for the virus.”
The US Food and Drug Administration last month warned against using the drug to treat COVID-19, citing “reports of serious heart rhythm problems” in patients receiving the drug.
Bolsonaro’s insistence on the drug’s potential and disregard of state isolation orders expelled two health ministers in a month, both trained doctors.
The Acting Head of the Ministry of Health, an army general, this week issued guidelines to expand the use of the drug in coronavirus cases.
Brazil has reported more than 363,000 cases of COVID-19, just behind the United States, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University.
Brazil also recorded more than 22,000 deaths, the fifth highest in the world.