US imposes travel restrictions on Brazil due to COVID-19

Washington: The White House has announced travel restrictions on Brazil due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has infected 363,211 people in the South American country, the second highest case tally in the world after the US.

“Today, the President has taken decisive action to protect our country by suspending the entry of aliens who have been in Brazil during the 14-day period before seeking admittance to the US,” the White House said in a statement on Sunday.

The statement said the action would “help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country”, noting that this measure would not apply to the flow of commerce between the two countries, reports Xinhua news agency.

The order will come into effect at 11.59 p.m. on May 28, according to the White House.

The entry ban affects foreigners who have been in Brazil 14 days preceding their entry into US territory, but does not affect US citizens and permanent residents of the country, as well as those who meet exceptions provided by President Donald Trump’s administration.

Earlier in the day, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said in an interview with CBS News: “I think that we’ll have to take a decision today with respect to Brazil, and just like we did with the UK and Europe and China, and we hope that’ll be temporary.

“But because of the situation in Brazil, we’re going to take every step necessary to protect the American people.”

When asked if the upcoming travel restriction would also expand to other countries in the Southern Hemisphere, O’Brien said that the US would “take a look at the other countries on a country-by-country basis”.

A senior Trump administration official told Efe news in a statement that between May 11-17, almost 1,800 travellers entered the country from Brazil and that each week more than 1,500 passengers arrive at US airports on flights from Brazilian territory.

Trump has spoken twice in the past two months with his Brazilian counterpart, Jair Bolsonaro, about their shared fight against COVID-19, the senior official said in the statement.

The Trump administration has also prohibited arrivals from China, Iran and Europe from entering the US and in the wake of the pandemic, the US also closed land borders with Canada and Mexico to non-essential traffic.

The US State Department’s travel advisory remains at Level 4, which instructs its citizens to avoid all international travel amid the global pandemic.

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