Brazil ends air travel ban despite record Covid-19 death toll

Despite the record daily number of Covid-19 cases, the Brazil’s government issued a decree reopening the country to foreign visitors arriving by plane, ending a four-month travel ban in hopes to revive tourism, news wires reported.

The country on Wednesday recorded 69,074 new cases and 1,595 new deaths for the past 24 hours, bringing the figures to a total of more than 2.5 million infections and 90,134 people killed since the start of the pandemic. The health ministry however noted that delayed figures from Sao Paulo, Brazil's most populous state and the one with the most cases and deaths, likely contributed to the high daily toll. The ministry also said it was due to increased testing in recent weeks.

The government meanwhile extended coronavirus-related bans on foreign travelers arriving by land or sea for another 30 days, but said the restrictions "will no longer bar the entry of foreigners arriving by air." The tourism industry has already lost nearly 122 billion reals ($23.6 bn) because of the pandemic, according the official data.

President Jair Bolsonaro faces criticism for its handling of the crisis. The far-right leader has dismissed the virus as a "little flu" and attacked lockdown measures by state and local authorities to contain it, arguing the economic fallout could be worse than the disease. Even after contracting the virus himself earlier this month, forcing him to work from quarantine at the presidential palace for more than two weeks, Bolsonaro has continued to downplay the severity of the pandemic.

 

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