World

White House limits travel to U.S. from Brazil as COVID-19 crisis deepens

The White House on Sunday said it was prohibiting most non-U.S. citizens from travelling to the United States if they had been in Brazil in the last two weeks, two days after the South American nation became the world No. 2 hot spot for coronavirus cases.

Most non-U.S. citizens who have visited Brazil within the past 14 days now barred

A person wearing a protective face mask is seen at the President Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport in Brasilia, Brazil, on Sunday. (Adriano Machado/Reuters)

The White House on Sunday said it was prohibiting most non-U.S. citizens from travelling to the United States if they had been in Brazil in the last two weeks, two days after the South American nation became the world No. 2 hot spot for coronavirus cases.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the new 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.

National security adviser Robert O'Brien earlier on Sunday told CBS's Face the Nation he hoped the move could be reconsidered at some point.

"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," O'Brien said.

Brazil on Friday surpassed Russia to become the world No. 2 hot spot for coronavirus cases, second only to the United States, and now has over 347,000 people infected by the virus, the Health Ministry said.

Meanwhile, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro hailed supporters rallying in the country's capital of Brasilia on Sunday to back his administration as an unfolding political scandal adds to the public health crisis driven by the coronavirus outbreak.

Surrounded by security guards wearing masks, but not wearing one himself, Bolsonaro was shown in a video live streamed on his Facebook page greeting protesters waving Brazilian flags and calling him a "Legend," days after Brazil topped Russia to become the world's No. 2 virus hot spot after the United States.

Bolsonaro was seen posing for photographs, shaking people's hands and even carrying a young boy on his shoulders, part of a pattern of flouting and discouraging physical distancing measures advised by health professionals to curb the pandemic.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro greets supporters during a protest in his favor in front of the Planalto Palace, in Brasilia, Brazil Sunday. (Adriano Machado/Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he was considering imposing a ban on travel from Brazil.

"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.

O'Brien said the United States will look at restrictions for other countries in the Southern Hemisphere on a country-by-country basis.

Trump suspended entry for most travellers from China, where the outbreak began, in January. In early March, he imposed travel restrictions on people coming from Europe.

The new restrictions bar most non-U.S. citizens who have visited Brazil within the past 14 days. Green card holders, close relatives of U.S. citizens and flight crew members, among select others, would be exempt.

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