Brazil’s Bolsonaro rejects COVID-19 Africa travel restrictions

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Brazil’s health regulator has recommended travel restrictions for some African countries due to the new coronavirus variant.

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Brazil’s health regulator has recommended a ban on travel from some African countries after a new COVID-19 variant was detected, but President Jair Bolsonaro appeared to be dismissive of such measures.

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Regulator Anvisa said on Friday that its recommendation, which would require government approval to implement, was to immediately suspend flights to and from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

The UK and EU are already tightening border controls as researchers look into whether the new coronavirus mutation is vaccine-resistant.

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Bolsonaro has been widely criticized for his handling of the pandemic.

He has jailed against lockdowns, often refusing to wear a mask in public and opting not to vaccinate, while a Senate commission recently recommended that his government’s handling of the crisis far outweighed -The President should be blamed.

Brazil has the world’s second-highest death toll from the virus, behind only the United States, with more than 613,000 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

“Given the epidemiological impact that the new version may have on the global situation, we recommend, as a preventive measure, the immediate suspension of all flights to and from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe, Anvisa said in a statement. ,

The UK’s Health Protection Agency said the new version, called B.1.1.529, contains a spike protein that differs dramatically from the original coronavirus on which vaccines are based, raising fears that How the current vaccines will fare.

Brazil’s regulatory agency also recommended a “temporary suspension of the authorization to stay in Brazil for foreign travelers who have passed through these countries in the past 14 days” because “the new version has high transmission potential”.

Prior to Friday’s Anvisa statement, Bolsonaro said there was no point in closing the borders.

“What madness is this?” Asked if travel would be banned, Bolsonaro told supporters. “If you close the airport the virus doesn’t come. It’s already here.”

The president’s remarks have come as the pandemic devastates in recent months.

More than 60 percent of Brazil’s 213 million people are now fully vaccinated, and the average daily coronavirus tally has fallen from more than 3,000 in April to nearly 200.

In Geneva, the World Health Organization on Friday warned against travel restrictions in light of the new version.

carnival hopes

Before the new version was discovered, with some semblance of normality returning to the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, the city’s samba schools were kicking into gear for the prestigious Carnival celebrations, which began in February after being canceled last year. are the ones.

Schools want 2022’s return carnival to be the biggest since 1919, the year Rio’s residents happily relive life after the devastation of another pandemic, the Spanish flu.

He has gone down in carnival history as one of the greatest parties of all time.

In “Samba City”, the sprawling port-district yard where each school has a hangar to dress up, carpenters, welders and costume designers are at full throttle.

The Wiradouro Samba School, the defending champion of Rio’s Carnival parade competition, also chose the 1919 Carnival as the theme of its return parade.

At a recent rehearsal, members of the school happily hugged on the dance floor and played music, mostly without face masks.

As the school’s “drum-corps queen” glimmered in a gold-fringed miniskirt, Moasir da Silva Pinto, the experienced head of drummers, led about 50 percussionists through a rapid rehearsal, around their necks. a loud whistle.

“We’re going to have the biggest carnival since 1919,” said a playful 65-year-old Pinto. “In Rio de Janeiro, like football and the beach, samba is ingrained in our lives.”

However, attendance at the rehearsals was restricted due to COVID-19.

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