US limits travel from Brazil amid worsening coronavirus outbreak

Brazil has the second-highest number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the world — trailing only the United States — with more than 350,000 cases and 22,700 deaths.

Agencies
A doctor checks a girl showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus at the Unidos de Padre Miguel samba school headquarters in Rio de Janeiro.
BRAZIL: The United States, citing Brazil’s surging coronavirus crisis, has banned flights from the nation, delivering a blow to its embattled leader, who has tried to use his warm relations with President Donald Trump to bolster his political standing. In recent weeks, coronavirus cases and deaths have exploded in Brazil, Latin America’s most populous country.

Its president, Jair Bolsonaro, a pandemic skeptic, had ignored the warnings of health experts and mocked social distancing measures. Now, Brazil has the second-highest number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the world — trailing only the United States — with more than 350,000 cases and 22,700 deaths.

As hospitals collapsed and mayors and governors begged for help, Bolsonaro spent recent months fighting the Supreme Court, Congress and even his own ministers. He now finds himself the target of an investigation into whether he shielded his family from corruption inquiries.


US officials said on Sunday they were imposing the ban to slow the spread of the disease. “Today’s action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country,” said the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany.

The new travel restrictions will not affect bilateral trade, she said. Bolsonaro’s office declined to comment, but his foreign relations adviser said that the ban had been expected and that it was little more than a formality. “Ignore the hysteria of the press,” the adviser, Filipe Martins, said in a Twitter post.

Although as a practical matter air travel has collapsed during the pandemic, the flight ban imposed by an ally is still a public relations setback for Bolsonaro, who has seen his ratings slide as the outbreak in Brazil has spun out of control.
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Bolsonaro has repeatedly tried to reap political capital from his ideological affinity with the American president.
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