The government of Brazil reported this Friday that it will close its air borders starting next Monday to travelers from six African countries, amid growing international concern about the detection of a new variant of the coronavirus in the region.
The measure will affect travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), as explained by the Minister of the Presidency, Ciro Nogueira, in a post on Twitter.
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According to Nogueira, the decision, which was taken jointly by the Ministries of the Presidency, Health, Infrastructure and Justice, will be published tomorrow, Saturday in the Official Gazette and will take effect next Monday.
“Brazil will close the air borders for six countries in Africa due to the new variant of the coronavirus. We are going to protect Brazilians in this new phase of the pandemic, ”said the minister.
The measure was announced amid escalating global fears about the emergence of a new variant of the coronavirus, dubbed the “omicron” and which has so far been detected in South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong (China) and Belgium.
It also comes hours after the Brazilian National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa, regulator) recommended the imposition of restrictive measures, temporarily, on passengers from the six aforementioned African countries.
“It is a variant that has more aggressive characteristics and that, obviously, requires immediate measures from the world health authorities,” said the director of Anvisa, Antonio Barra Torres.
This same Friday, the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, one of the most denialist leaders in the face of the pandemic and who is not vaccinated against the covid, came to reject the closure of the country’s airports, although later he declared that he will adopt “measures rational ”before the spread of the new strain.
With the decision, Brazil joins various countries, such as the United States, Canada, Russia and the members of the European Union (EU), among others, that have restricted the entry of passengers from southern Africa.
With some 213 million inhabitants, 614,000 dead and 22 million infected by the covid, the South American country is in absolute terms the second in the world most affected by the disease, only behind the United States.
According to WHO experts, the new variant detected appears to be more contagious than the previous ones, although there is still no data to determine whether it is more or less resistant to the available covid-19 vaccines.
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