Sun, 05 Jul 2020

US Moves Up Brazilian Travel Ban by 2 Days

Voice of America
26 May 2020, 12:35 GMT+10

The White House is imposing its travel ban from Brazil two days earlier than announced after that country revealed its new daily coronavirus death toll - a number that is now higher than the United States'.

U.S. officials did not give a specific reason for moving up the travel ban that was supposed to have started Thursday but will now take effect Tuesday.

The Brazilian health ministry said Monday that COVID-19 killed 807 people in the previous 24 hours. The one-day U.S. death toll was 620.

The Brazilian travel ban applies to foreigners who want to come to the United States and have been in Brazil during the last 14 days, the period during which health experts say someone can have COVID-19 and infect others without showing any symptoms. U.S. President Donald Trump has similar travel bans in place on China, the United Kingdom and Europe.

The White House says the president is taking this "decisive action ... to help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country."

Brazil has more than 347,000 COVID-19 cases - the second-highest number after the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has for months played down the seriousness of the coronavirus, urging businesses to reopen and dismissing many social distancing recommendations.

He has brushed off the virus as nothing more than "a little flu" and says a wrecked economy will kill more people than the illness. He has called Brazilians worried about the coronavirus neurotic.

The head of the World Health Organization says it is temporarily dropping the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine from its study into possible COVID-19 treatments.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said an article in the medical journal Lancet claims the drug puts people at a higher risk of heart disease and possible death.

WHO emergencies chief, Dr. Michael Ryan, said there have been no problems with the drug in WHO trials so far. But, he said, "We're just acting on an abundance of caution based on the recent results of all the studies to ensure that we can continue safely with that arm of the trial."

Trump has touted hydroxychloroquine as an effective coronavirus treatment and claims he has been taking it even though he has not tested positive for the virus.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Memorial Day Monday that the state and local governments will pay death benefits to the families of public workers who died from coronavirus.

"I feel a grave responsibility to our frontline workers, our essential workers who understood the dangers of this COVID virus, but went to work anyway, because we needed them to," said Cuomo in New York City. "Today, we're saying we honor that service, and we're going to make sure that every government in the state of New York provides death benefits to those public heroes who died from COVID-19 during this emergency."

They include policemen, firefighters, and health care workers.

On the other side of the country, California Governor Gavin Newsom said churches in the state can start reopening, but attendance must be limited to 100 people and he recommends that people wear masks and avoid handshakes and hugs.

Churches, synagogues, and mosques around the state have been closed since March.

But some church leaders say they are in no hurry to reopen, including Reverend Amos Brown of San Francisco's Third Baptist Church.

"We are not going to be rushing back to church. Freedom of religion is not the freedom to kill folks, not the freedom to put people in harm's way. That's insane," he said.

Also Monday, Spain's health ministry revised its coronavirus death toll downward by 2,000. That number now stands at close to 27,000.

"We are correcting the series, validating data, eliminating duplicate cases, eliminating cases that were notified as probable coronavirus, suspected cases that were not confirmed," Health emergency coordinator Fernando Simon told reporters.

Spain has been one of the world's hardest-hit nations. But authorities say the death toll - which was 950 a day in early April - is now about 100 per day.

Although some Spanish beaches and tourist attractions are starting to reopen, officials recommend people put off any travel to Spain until at least July.

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