Trump imposes travel restrictions on Brazil

The White House on Sunday announced President Trump is restricting the entry of non-U.S. citizens traveling from Brazil as the Latin American country sees a surge in coronavirus cases.

“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 United States,” White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.

“As of May 23, 2020, Brazil had 310,087 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which is the third highest number of confirmed cases in the world. Today’s action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country. These new restrictions do not apply to the flow of commerce between the United States and Brazil,” she added.

Trump told reporters last week that his administration was considering suspending travel from Brazil, which has reported more than 22,500 deaths due to the coronavirus. The country now trails only the U.S. in the number of total cases after surpassing Russia on Friday.

“We are considering it. We hope that we’re not going to have a problem,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, pointing to concerns about Brazilians traveling to Florida.

“Brazil has gone more or less herd,” he said, adding, “They’re having problems.”

Mike Ryan, a top World Health Organization official, pointed to South America as a new hot spot for the pandemic at a press conference on Friday.

“In a sense, South America has become a new epicenter for the disease. We have seen many South American countries with increasing numbers of cases,” Ryan said.

“Clearly there is a concern across many of those countries, but clearly the most affected is Brazil at this point,” he added.

The country’s approach to the virus has been contradictory at times, with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro referring to it as a “little flu” and encouraging businesses to open even as local leaders urge otherwise. He also dismissed his former health minister in April after reports that the minister was being excluded from meetings with Bolsonaro’s Cabinet.

Trump previously moved to restrict travel from China, where the virus is thought to have originated, in late January. In March, he restricted travel from European countries, eventually extending the restrictions to Ireland and the U.K.

Travel from Mexico and Canada was also restricted, and the restriction at U.S. borders was extended last week.

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