US President Donald Trump said Tuesday he is considering imposing a halt on all travel coming from Latin America and Brazil amid worsening coronavirus outbreaks in the region.
"We are considering it," Trump said when asked by a reporter about possibly imposing the sweeping travel ban. "Brazil has gone more or less herd, and they're having problems."
It is unclear what Trump was referring to with his use of the term "herd," but he could have been referring to herd immunity, which in the sense Trump was likely addressing would refer to attempts to build up immunity to an infectious disease by large segments of the population contracting it in an attempt to build immunity.
Brazil is Latin America's COVID-19 epicenter, overtaking former hotspots the UK, Spain, and Italy on Tuesday to become the country with the third-highest number of coronavirus cases in the world behind only the US and Russia.
According to a running tally by Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, the country has registered over 262,000 cases and nearly 17,509 deaths.
Health experts say the real number of cases could be even higher because of insufficient testing in the country of around 210 million people.
Manaus, in the Brazilian Amazon, has recently had to resort to mass graves to accommodate COVID-19 victims, while Sao Paulo's hospitals have reached 90% capacity.
Over the weekend, President Jair Bolsonaro slammed lockdown measures once again. He addressed supporters at a demonstration on Sunday, where he took off his face mask and posed for pictures with kids.
Last week, Brazilian Health Minister Nelson Teich resigned after less than a month on the job. While Bolsonaro has called for the widespread use of drugs such as hydroxychloroquine to fight the virus, Teich did not approve its use in all patients.
In elaborating on his travel ban deliberations Trump, who says he is taking the drug that has not been vetted by medical experts to treat COVID-19, said he does not "want people coming in here infecting our people."
"I don't want people over there sick either. We're helping Brazil with ventilators," he said. "We're sending a lot of people. Brazil is having some trouble. No question about it."
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