Brazil to quarantine unvaccinated airline visitors

Health

Commuters wear protective face masks as they walk through a subway station, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Brazil joined the widening circle of countries to report cases of the omicron variant. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

BRASILIA, Brazil (AP) — Brazil will require international travelers who aren’t vaccinated against the coronavirus to quarantine for five days in their city of destination after arriving by plane.

The decision issued by the ministries of health, justice, infrastructure and the government’s chief of staff was published in the nation’s official gazette Thursday.

The administration of President Jair Bolsonaro, who is unvaccinated himself, will start enforcing the measure Saturday. It is unclear how effectively Brazil can or will track those required to quarantine.

The head of the country’s health regulator, Antonio Barra Torres, told The Associated Press that the policy will “mean discouragement of anti-vaccine tourism to Brazil.”

The quarantine requirement “is a deterrent and educational measure,” Torres said by phone.

Travelers coming to Brazil still need to submit a negative PCR test result before boarding in their country of origin and submit a declaration to the country’s health regulator.

Unvaccinated travelers will have to take a new virus test after the five-day quarantine period and must check in with a health agency center that will have their addresses.

Brazil’s government announced the quarantine requirement as worldwide concerns grow about omicron, a new and rapidly spreading variant of the coronavirus, though it is not yet clear if it is more dangerous than other variants.

More than 616,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil, the country with second-most deaths from the disease. The pandemic has waned in recent months and the nation’s seven-day average is approaching 200 deaths a day.

Many of Brazil’s major cities, including Rio de Janeiro, have either cancelled or scaled back their New Year’s Eve festivities due to fears of a new spread of the virus.

Rio’s fireworks show on Copacabana beach is a major tourism draw, and Mayor Eduardo Paes said Thursday that it will take place as expected. The fireworks will be placed in 10 boats for a 16-minute-display.

“Of course there will be a gathering (for the fireworks),” Paes said at a news conference. “Gatherings are not prohibited in Rio de Janeiro.”

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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