WASHINGTON – The White House on Monday brought forward by two days restrictions on travel to the United States from Brazil that were announced after the Latin American country became the world’s No 2 coronavirus hotspot.
A White House statement amended the timing of the start of the restrictions to 11.59pm Eastern Time on Tuesday. In its original announcement on Sunday, it said the restrictions would come into force on May 28.
The statement did not give a reason for the move. The travel ban was a blow to right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has followed the example of US President Donald Trump in addressing the pandemic, fighting calls for social distancing and touting unproven drugs.
The White House said on Sunday the restrictions would help ensure foreign nationals do not bring additional infections to the United States, but would not apply to the flow of commerce between the two countries.
“I don’t want people coming over here and infecting our people. I don’t want people over there sick either. We’re helping Brazil with ventilators … Brazil is having some trouble, no question about it,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, said on Sunday the measures were needed to protect American people and he hoped they would be temporary. The United States has the largest number of coronavirus cases in the world – over 1.7 million till late Monday.
Brazil on Monday said its death toll from the novel coronavirus climbed to 23,522, following 807 fatalities in a single day.
The total number of people who have tested positive for the disease reached 376,669, with a mortality rate of 6.3 percent, according to the Health Ministry.
In the past 24 hours, 11,687 new cases of infection were detected, while a total of 153,833 people have recovered since the pandemic reached Brazil.–With input from Agencies