U.S. may ban travelers from Brazil on Sunday over outbreak: White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is likely to impose travel restrictions on Brazil on Sunday, a top White House official said after the South American nation became the world No. 2 hot spot for coronavirus cases.

FILE PHOTO: Latam Airlines employees walk at the company’s check-in hall at Guarulhos International airport as air traffic is affected by the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Guarulhos, near Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 19, 2020.REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli/File Photo

National security adviser Robert O’Brien told CBS’ “Face the Nation” there will likely be a decision to suspend entry for travelers arriving from Brazil.

“We hope that’ll be temporary, but because of the situation in Brazil, we’re going to take every step necessary to protect the American people,” O’Brien said.

Brazil became the world No. 2 hot spot for coronavirus cases on Friday, second only to the United States, and now has over 347,000 people infected by the virus, the Health Ministry said.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he was c onsidering imposing a ban on travel from Brazil.

“I don’t want people coming over here and infecting our people. I don’t want people over there sick either. We’re helping Brazil with ventilators. … Brazil is having some trouble, no question about it,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

O’Brien said the United States will look at restrictions for other countries in the Southern Hemisphere on a country-by-country basis.

Trump suspended entry of most travelers from China, where the outbreak began, in January. In early March, he imposed travel restrictions on people coming from Europe.

A U.S. government official said on Friday a proposal to add Brazil to a list of countries that face a bar on nearly all non-U.S. citizens from entering the United States had gone through interagency review and could be acted on in the coming days by Trump.

The measure would bar most non-U.S. citizens who have visited Brazil within the past 14 days. Green card holders, close relatives of U.S. citizens and flight crew members would be exempt.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by David Shephardson; Editing by Lisa Shumaker