Trump coronavirus travel ban on Brazil to take effect Tuesday

Brazil is now Latin America's hardest-hit country

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The Trump administration's temporary travel ban on foreigners from Brazil goes into effect Tuesday in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus from the Latin American country, which has also been hard hit by the virus.

Trump had already banned certain travelers from China, Europe, the United Kingdom and Ireland and, to a lesser extent, Iran. He has not moved to ban travel from Russia, which has the world's third-highest caseload.

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Trump had said last week that he was considering limiting travel from Brazil.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany cast the step announced Sunday as another "decisive action to protect our country" by Trump, whose management of the crisis has come under sharp scrutiny.

Emergency workers transfer a COVID-19 patient to a hospital in Manaus, Brazil, May 15, 2020. Per capita, Manaus is Brazil's major city hardest hit by COVID-19. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

The U.S. leads the world with more than 1.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases and a death toll that is expected to surpass 100,000 later this week, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Brazil, now Latin America's hardest-hit country, is second, with more than 374,000 cases and more than 23,000 deaths.

"Today's action will help ensure foreign nationals who have been in Brazil do not become a source of additional infections in our country," McEnany said.

President Trump shakes hands with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro before attending a working dinner at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, March 7, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner 

Filipe Martins, who advises Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on international affairs, said the U.S. was treating Brazil as it had other populous countries and suggested the news media were overplaying Trump's ban.

"By temporarily banning the entry of Brazilians to the U.S., the American government is following previously established quantitative parameters that naturally reach a country as populous as ours," Martins tweeted. "There isn’t anything specifically against Brazil. Ignore the hysteria from the press."

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Bolsonaro has downplayed the coronavirus by repeatedly calling it a "little flu" and insisting that closing businesses and issuing stay-at-home recommendations will ultimately cause more hardship by wrecking the economy. Bolsonaro fired his first health minister for going against him and backing restrictions put in place by Brazil's governors. His second minister also resigned after openly breaking with Bolsonaro over widespread prescription of the antimalarial drug chloroquine for coronavirus treatment.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.