Brazil bars certain foreigners, allows Americans, as coronavirus spreads

A restaurant is seen empty amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Sao Paulo, Brazil March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Rahel Patrasso

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil late on Thursday announced it will bar citizens from certain countries affected by the coronavirus outbreak from entering the country, but exempted the United States, one of the countries with the highest number of cases.

The measure was published in Brazil’s federal gazette and is relatively weak in its restrictions compared to other Latin American nations. Those banned include citizens of the EU, China, Japan, Australia, Malaysia and South Korea.

Brazil crossed 600 coronavirus cases on Thursday, more than doubling in two days. So far Brazil has remained the odd country in the region not implementing severe air travel restrictions.

Brazil’s Justice Ministry said countries were selected based on risk, but did not explain why the United States was not included, which has one of the highest infected counts in the world.

In Latin America, Colombia and Panama announced on Thursday that they would ban all international flights for 30 days. Other countries such as Peru, Ecuador and El Salvador have already implemented similar measures.

Earlier on Thursday Brazil closed its land borders.

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Writing by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Stephen Coates