Latin American countries step up coronavirus restrictions as cases spread

Brazils said it was closing land borders and barring entry to people from Europe and many Asia Pacific countries to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, while Mexico and Peru reported their first virus deaths , and Argentina announced a “preventive and mandatory” lockdown from Friday.

The Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro also said it would ban access to its world famous beaches, including Copacabana and Ipanema.

Chile, shaken by months of social protests, unveiled an $ 11.75 billion economic stimulus package to deal with the effects of the virus on the giant copper producer, but also announced that it was deferring a referendum on the modification of its constitution.

Meanwhile, a plane operated by the Spanish carrier Iberia sent to Ecuador to pick up stranded foreigners was unable to land at an airport in Guayaquil, which is under control.

Brazil said its two-week border closure would affect all neighboring countries, except Uruguay to the south, after closing its border with Venezuela on Tuesday.

Its new restrictions on travelers from Europe and Asia-Pacific are expected to last 30 days, according to a ministerial decree.

They apply to people from the European Union, Great Britain, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, as well as China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Malaysia who do not reside not in Brazil or have no valid reason to work or travel.

The largest country in Latin America, with a population of 210 million, has so far recorded 621 cases of coronavirus, with six deaths.

Rio State Governor Wilson Witzel said on Saturday that he would close all beaches, bars and restaurants. He also announced a measure to cut transport links with other Brazilian states with reported viruses, although this has to be ratified by federal authorities.

Mexico reported its first death from coronavirus – a 41-year-old man with diabetes who died in Mexico City on Wednesday. Mexico has registered 118 virus cases.

Meanwhile, a Mexican federal judge has ordered President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to take all preventive and necessary measures to detect infected people in the country.

Peru, which has a total of 234 confirmed cases, reported its first three deaths.

Chile’s recovery plan

Chile’s recovery plan “will strengthen our ability to meet the health, economic and social needs that the coronavirus pandemic represents and that are likely to worsen in the future,” said President Sebastian Pinera during a press conference.

Senate Speaker Adriana Munoz said leaders of major political parties have agreed to postpone the referendum on changing the dictatorship era from April 26 to October 25, to give the country time to fight the virus.

Health Minister Jaime Manalich announced the foreclosure of Easter Island in Chile, saying that no one could enter or leave the isolated Pacific island for the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, the police said they had foiled an attempt to escape from the largest prison in Chile. Earlier this week, detainees from prisons in Brazil and Venezuela managed to escape, motivated by fears that the prisons are fertile ground for coronavirus.

Chile has recorded 342 cases of virusto dates.

In Ecuador, Cynthia Viteri, mayor of the country’s second city, Guayaquil, said that she had ordered vehicles to block the runway of the international airport to prevent the landing of the plane operated by Spain.

The Madrid flight, with only one crew on board, was able to land later in Quito.

Ecuador has banned all flights since Monday to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Panama, which hosts the busiest airport in Central America, and Colombia both said they would suspend all international air travel for a month from Monday.

Colombian President Ivan Duque said money laundering was necessary because some people who entered the country had tried to avoid mandatory quarantine regulations.

Colombia closed its land and sea borders on Tuesday.

Confinement of Bogota

Bogota City Hall has said the capital’s seven million residents will be confined from Friday to Monday as part of a test for possible future quarantine.

Other cities in Colombia, which has more than 100 cases of coronavirus, were also subject to night curfews.

Meanwhile, Eduardo Bolsonaro, the legislative son of the President of Brazil, joined US President Donald Trump to criticize China over the pandemic, prompting Beijing to ask for an apology.

The Chinese Embassy accused Bolsonaro of using “irresponsible words” and of “catching a mental virus”.

(AFP)