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  HOME | Latin America (Click here for more)

Countries across Americas Fight Coronavirus with Border Closures

TORONTO – Canada and three Latin American countries announced on Monday that they are either sharply or entirely restricting the entry of foreign nationals in a bid to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the closure of the border to individuals arriving from abroad who are not Canadian citizens or residents or United States citizens, saying the measure will take effect at noon on Wednesday.

He also said that airlines have been instructed to bar anyone with symptoms of the novel coronavirus from boarding flights to Canada and that anyone with symptoms of that disease upon arrival will not be allowed to enter the country.

Speaking at a press conference in Ottawa, he urged all Canadians to return home as soon as possible and explained that American citizens are exempt from the travel ban for the time being due to “the level of integration of our two economies.”

Trudeau, who noted that the ban does not affect the shipment of goods into Canada, said all fresh foreign arrivals to the country must land at one of four airports – Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver – and, after undergoing tests, self-isolate for 14 days, the assumed maximum incubation period for COVID-19.

The prime minister has been in isolation since last Thursday, when his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Canada thus far has reported 376 confirmed COVID-19 cases and four deaths from that respiratory illness.

Elsewhere Monday, Chilean President Sebastian Piñera said that nation’s borders will be closed to all non-citizen and non-resident international arrivals starting Wednesday, although the measure does not apply to shipments of goods.

Those allowed entry must self-quarantine for 14 days and will face fines and possible jail time if they fail to comply with that requirement.

Piñera, who did not indicate how long the border closure will be in effect, said the armed forces will help enforce this new measure.

Prior to the border restriction, Chile (156 cases and no deaths) announced over the weekend the suspension of all classes at elementary schools and high schools for two weeks.

Two Central American countries also announced on Monday that they will be shutting their borders to non-citizen and non-resident international arrivals: Guatemala and Costa Rica.

Guatemala (eight cases and one death) had previously barred the entry of foreign nationals from a half-dozen countries and will be “incommunicado via air from any destination worldwide” for 15 days starting Tuesday, President Alejandro Giammattei said.

Giammattei said Guatemalan nationals and residents and diplomatic personnel will solely be allowed to enter the country via land and will have to self-isolate.

Guatemala’s neighbor, Honduras, closed its borders starting at midnight Sunday.

Costa Rica’s government declared on Monday a state of emergency to confront the novel coronavirus and announced that the border will be closed to all foreign visitors starting at 11:59 pm Wednesday.

School classes also have been temporarily suspended.

“We’ve adopted the measures to protect ourselves. It’s time to look after one another. What we’re being asked to do to protect ourselves is to stay at home at much as possible, don’t expose ourselves, don’t cause commotions and follow the recommendations for the people we love,” President Carlos Alvarado said in a press conference.

Between 11:59 pm on March 18 and 11:59 on April 12, Costa Rica (35 cases and no deaths) will only allow the entry of Costa Rican citizens and residents. Like in other countries, those fresh arrivals must self-isolate for 14 days.

Elsewhere in the Americas, the US closed its borders on March 11 to all visitors who had been in China, Iran and a group of European countries over the previous two weeks. The European measure was later extended to the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Peru and Argentina, meanwhile, announced over the weekend the closure of their borders to incoming foreigners for at least two weeks.

 

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