President Jair Bolsonaro announced that Brazil's border with Venezuela will be closed from Wednesday, March 18, to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). On Tuesday, March 17, the Brazilian government said that it will be seeking authorization from congress to declare a state of emergency until Thursday, December 31, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The state of emergency would allow the federal government to direct money into relief efforts without abiding to strict spending limits. Only vehicles transporting merchandise will be allowed to cross the border. All public cultrual and sports events have also been cancelled as a precautionary measure.
Meanwhile, local media reported that as many 1300 inmates have escaped from prisons in Mongaguá, Tremembé, Mirandópolis, and Porto Feliz on Monday, March 16, ahead of a planned prison lock-down to prevent spread of the virus. Authorities are reportedly recapturing the prisoners. An increased security presence is likely in the area over the coming days.
The Ministry of Health has confirmed 291 cases of the virus in Brazil as of Tuesday, March 17, including the country's first fatality. The individual was a 62-year-old man with underlying health conditions. Additionally, President Bolsonaro was tested twice for COVID-19 after Communications Secretary Fabio Wajngarten tested positive for the virus. The President said on Wednesday that the results of his second test were negative.
Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
Copyright and Disclaimer