Americas, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Brazil closes borders to stem coronavirus outbreak

Latin America's biggest nation registers 428 cases, 6 deaths from pandemic as countries in region take drastic measures

Laura Gamba   | 19.03.2020
Brazil closes borders to stem coronavirus outbreak ( FABIO TEIXEIRA - Anadolu Agency )

BOGOTA, Colombia 

Brazil said Thursday it was closing its land borders with neighbors for 15 days to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

Brazil has the highest number of coronavirus infections in Latin America and recorded its sixth death from the virus, while the number of infections nationwide rose to 428, according to health officials.

It already closed its border March 18 to with Venezuela.

In Chile, cases have doubled every two or three days, as have Argentina, Peru and Colombia, which have taken more drastic measures recently to curb the spread.

Here is how the coronavirus is evolving in South America.

Chile   

The government Thursday confirmed 342 cases of the virus.

"Positive cases are doubling every three days, more or less what we had anticipated," said Health Minister Jaime Manalich.

The nation declared a 90-day state of emergency Wednesday as cases of COVID-19 mounted. The measure allows for limiting certain constitutional rights or guarantees such as free transit.

"The armed forces will be able to act as true health forces, collaborating with all the officials in our health system," said President Sebastian Piner, in reference to a provision that allows military personnel to participate in relief efforts.

Pinera said the measure will allow authorities to offer better security at hospitals, protect the logistical chain for the transfer of medical supplies and facilitate the care and transfer of patients and medical personnel.

"The state of exception has the objective of anticipating, preparing us for the stages that are coming in this pandemic that is the coronavirus," he said. 

Chile shut its borders to non-resident foreigners March 18 and citizens returning from high-risk areas must be quarantined for 14 days.

Colombia 

Health officials confirmed the number of people with the virus now stands at 108.

President Ivan Duque announced Colombia will shut its airport March 23 to all commercial flights. All land, air and sea borders will also remain closed.

“I want to inform all Colombians: As of 00:00 hours on March 23rd, all international passenger flights will not be allowed to arrive in the country's airports, for a period of 30 days,” he said on Twitter.

That followed a state of emergency Wednesday that ordered anyone older than 70 to remain indoors until the end of May.

“To protect our grandparents we have declared an obligatory isolation starting Friday March 20, until May 31,” he said.

On March 16, Colombia banned all foreigners who had been to Europe or Asia in the past 14 days, with the exception of foreign residents. It also closed its borders with Venezuela, where thousands of migrants and refugees cross daily.  

Argentina

With 97 reported cases and three deaths, Argentina is boosting measures to stem the spread of the virus,

The government announced March 15 the closing of borders to all non-residents for at least two weeks, and canceled all flights from the United States and Europe.

Authorities are arresting those who break mandatory quarantines during the outbreak.

"I am not going to be flexible on this," President Alberto Fernandez said Sunday. "Anyone who has to be in quarantine is going to follow it, and if they don't, we're going to pursue them criminally,” he said.

-VenezuelaVenezuela confirmed six new cases, bringing the total to 42. Four of the new cases were diagnosed in police officers serving in El Helicoide, a Venezuelan prison. The Venezuelan opposition raised alarm on Thursday about political prisoners' health.“Venezuelan political prisoners are at risk from the Coronavirus pandemic because of the conditions in which they are being held by the dictatorship,” tweeted opposition leader Juan Guaido.On March 12, Venezuela announced the cancellation of all flights coming from Europe, Colombia, Panama and the Dominican Republic for at least 30 days. The country has also announced a nationwide quarantine.







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