As Latin America takes steps to counter coronavirus, Brazil’s Bolsonaro snubs warnings

Guatemala recorded its first death from the coronavirus virus on Sunday, while countries in South and Central America have stepped up measures to contain the infection, Panama banning the entry of non-resident foreigners and the Honduras closing its borders to passenger traffic for a week.

The Argentinian and Peruvian leaders also announced on Sunday the closure of the curbcoronavirus borders. Argentina will close its borders for 15 days to non-residents, President Alberto Fernandez said during a televised press conference.

Classes in public and private schools will also be suspended until March 31, said Fernandez. National parks would be closed.

Argentina tightens travel restrictions

The day before, Argentina had issued a decree banning the entry of 30 days to non-residents who have traveled to a country heavily affected by the coronavirus in the past 14 days.

The country has also temporarily suspended the issuance of visas to travelers from the United States, China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Britain and many European countries.

Peru suspends air and sea transport

Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra said on Sunday that Peru would also close its borders, suspending air and sea transport. He called on citizens to self-quarantine for 15 days to help slow the infection.

In Guatemala, Health Minister Hugo Monroy said at a press conference that the dead man was an 85-year-old man who had recently returned from Madrid without showing any signs of illness.

Doctors confirmed he had the virus early Sunday, added Monroy. He later died in a private hospital.

Venezuela imposes “collective quarantine”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday ordered “collective quarantine” in seven states, including the capital Caracas, to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic

Food distribution, health services, transportation and security are exempt, said Maduro in a televised speech to his country devastated by the crisis, where the economy had already collapsed long before the pandemic.

“The only way to contain the transmission channels is to enter a … drastic phase of collective quarantine throughout the country,” said Maduro, adding that the measures “deserved great social discipline, great mastery of self “and people had to stay at Home.

Caracas alone is home to six million people.

This latest measure to fight the pandemic comes after Maduro had previously banned flights to and from Europe, Colombia, Panama and the Dominican Republic. It also suspended school and university courses and sporting events.

Venezuela reported seven new cases of COVID-19 disease on Sunday, bringing the total to 17.

Panama, the most affected country in Central America

Panama, the hardest hit in Central America, reported its first coronavirus death earlier this week. Panama’s Minister of Health, Rosario Turner, said the number of confirmed cases in the country had increased to 55 from 43 on Saturday.

As of 11:59 p.m. Monday night, only Panamanians and foreign residents will be allowed into Panama, Security Minister Juan Pino said alongside Turner at a press conference.

Panama has ordered the closure of common areas in hotels, nightclubs, bars and casinos and elsewhere, said Turner.

The government also ordered the closure of stores in the country, except for supermarkets, pharmacies and medical centers. In addition, Panama has suspended elective surgical procedures and limited hospital visits to outpatients, said Turner.

Honduras imposes strict measures

Honduran police on Sunday removed people from beaches and shops and cafes to enforce a government order on Saturday banning gatherings of more than 50 people.

President Juan Orlando Hernandez said in a televised speech that, one minute before midnight Sunday, the country’s borders would be closed for one week to all traffic except the movement of goods.

All businesses in Honduras, with a few exceptions, including supermarkets, pharmacies, medical centers, hotels, gas stations and banks, will be closed for the time being, added Hernandez.

The Costa Rican government has ordered all bars and nightclubs to close, with the number of coronary virus infections in the country increasing to 35, the health ministry said on Sunday.

Colombia restricts entry to foreigners

Colombia will block the entry of travelers who are neither residents nor citizens and will close schools and universities from Monday onwards to control the coronavirus epidemic, President Ivan Duque said on Sunday.

Colombian citizens and foreign residents arriving from March 16 will be required to complete a mandatory 14-day isolation period, Duque said on Twitter, while educators will begin planning for students to study at home.

The Andean country reported its first case of COVID-19 on March 6 and its balance rose to 34 cases on Sunday.

The government has announced that it will close its border with Venezuela from Saturday morning, following its previous declaration of a health emergency, which has suspended public gatherings of more than 500 people and prevented cruise ships from sailing. moor in its harbors.

Brazilian Bolsonaro renounces his advice

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took selfies with his supporters and celebrated the thousands of protesters who gathered in major cities on Sunday, just days after he called for a halt to the protests due to the spread of the coronavirus.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro meets supporters during a demonstration against the Brazilian Congress and the Supreme Court of Brazil in front of the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil on March 15, 2020. © REUTERS / Adriano Machado

Bolsonaro appeared to ignore advice from medical experts suggesting that he remained isolated after several members of his Florida delegation recently tested positive for the virus.

The president tested negative for the virus, as did President Donald Trump following their meeting, but S. Paulo’s O Estado newspaper reported that Bolsonaro’s medical team had suggested staying isolated until the start of the next week.

He will also take another test to rule out the possibility that he has the virus, the newspaper reported on Friday.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)