Paralysis for Latin America with Argentine lockdown

21 March, 2020 12:00 AM printer

BRASÍLIA: Brazil on Thursday announced it was closing land borders and prohibiting entry to people from European and many Pacific Asian countries to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, as Mexico and Peru reported their first virus deaths, reports AFP.   

And Argentina said it would go on a “preventative and compulsory” lockdown from Friday until March 31 in an effort to contain the virus. Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro state also said it would bar people from its world famous beaches including Copacabana and Ipanema. Chile, rocked by months of social protests, unveiled an $11.75 billion economic stimulus package to cope with the effects of the virus on the giant copper producer, but also announced it was postponing a referendum on changing its constitution.

Meanwhile, a plane operated by Spanish carrier Iberia sent to Ecuador to pick up stranded foreigners was prevented from landing at an airport in Guayaquil, which is under lockdown.

Brazil said its two-week border closure would affect all neighboring countries, with the exception of Uruguay to the south, after shutting its border with Venezuela on Tuesday. Its new restrictions against travelers from Europe and the Asia Pacific are set to last 30 days, according to a ministerial decree.

They apply to people coming from the European Union, Britain, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, as well as China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Malaysia who are not Brazilian residents or do not have valid work or family reasons to travel. Latin America’s largest country, with a population of 210 million, has so far registered 621 cases of the coronavirus, with six deaths.

Rio state governor Wilson Witzel said from Saturday he would close all beaches, bars and restaurants. He also announced a measure to cut transport links with other Brazilian states with reported virus cases, although that needs to be ratified by federal authorities. Mexico reported its first coronavirus death — a 41-year-old man with diabetes who died on Wednesday in Mexico City. Mexico has recorded 118 virus cases.

A Mexican federal judge meanwhile ordered President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to take all preventative measures and necessary actions in order to detect infected persons in the country.

Peru, which has a total of 234 confirmed cases, reported its first three deaths. Chile’s stimulus plan “will strengthen our ability to face the health, economic and social needs that the coronavirus pandemic is signifying and that will probably tend to worsen in the future,” President Sebastian Pinera told a press conference.


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