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Chile and Uruguay sign public health collaboration deal

Natália Scalzaretto
Sep 27, 2021 17:20

As part of Chilean President Sebastián Piñera’s official visit to Montevideo, health authorities in Chile and Uruguay signed a memorandum of understanding in public health, aiming to further collaboration over the next three years. 

The deal will comprise areas such as organ donation, registering vaccines, healthy lifestyles and obesity, mental health, cancer, environmental health and toxicology, healthy aging, Covid-19 training for health professionals, and other issues agreed upon by both countries. The three-year period may be extended provided both parties are in agreement. 

While announcing the deal, Chile’s Health Minister Enrique Paris highlighted mental health as a pressing challenge for both countries. Despite mounting one of the most effective Covid-19 responses in the continent, Chile is struggling with the psychological strain the pandemic has had on the population. As of August, sick leaves already surpassed the entire total for 2020, and 27 percent of the 5.2 million requests were related to mental health issues. 

Mr. Paris also noted that the industrial plant and research center Sinovac plans to build in Chile could help foster health cooperation across Latin America, as it will be able to supply the region with CoronaVac vaccines. The facility will not manufacture the immunizers themselves, however, only bottling and packaging them.

Germany makes CoronaVac U-turn after loosening travel restrictions

Euan Marshall
Sep 27, 2021 14:34

After announcing that it would begin welcoming visitors from Brazil vaccinated with Sinovac’s CoronaVac as of September 19, the German government made a U-turn, tightening up restrictions for tourists who received the Chinese-made immunizer.

The original rule change permitted entry for all fully vaccinated visitors from Brazil without the need for quarantine, but this directive was amended so that people who received CoronaVac would only be allowed into Germany if they had an “urgent reason” for their trip. Individuals vaccinated with any of the other immunizers available in Brazil may enter without restrictions, with PCR test requirements also being lifted for these travelers.

CoronaVac is not yet recognized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), meaning Brazilians vaccinated with the Chinese immunizer have been excluded from looser travel restrictions in several European countries. 

Currently, Brazilian tourists vaccinated with CoronaVac can travel freely to Portugal, Switzerland, Croatia, and Spain. In a similar boat to Germany, France has lifted quarantine restrictions for vaccinated Brazilians, but has yet to recognize CoronaVac as an eligible immunizer.

Covid deaths rise in 12 Brazilian states

Ana Ferraz
Sep 27, 2021 11:21

With almost 70 percent of the Brazilian population having received at least one coronavirus vaccine — with 40 percent fully immunized — Covid deaths in Brazil have been in freefall for the past three months. In recent weeks, however, deaths have risen in 12 of the country’s 27 states.

The virus death curve rose by more than 15 percent on Sunday compared with the indicator two weeks ago (September 12). Variations above 15 percent indicate this is not a one-off oscillation, but rather a change in the pattern observed at least 14 days ago. The state of Acre saw the highest increase, with an 850-percent rise between September 12 and 26, though its absolute number of coronavirus deaths (1,836) remains the lowest in the country. 

The considerable increase comes mainly because of a data update from September 21, when state health authorities reported 18 more deaths than the day before, the highest number ever reported in 24 hours in the state since the start of the pandemic.

Alongside Acre, the states that saw the greatest increases in average Covid-19 deaths were Tocantins, Pará, Amapá, and Espírito Santo — all with variations of at least 50 percent.

On the other hand, the states of Minas Gerais, Roraima, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, and Ceará had drops in death figures of at least 30 percent. Another eight states saw variations below 15 percent and remained stable.

80 percent of Brazilians say coronavirus pandemic is under control

Euan Marshall
Sep 24, 2021 15:46

According to a study by pollster Datafolha, 80 percent of the Brazilian population believes that the coronavirus pandemic is either totally or partly under control in the country.

The rate of new cases in Brazil has been decreasing since late June, reaching a seven-day rolling average of just over 15,000 cases on September 17 — the lowest level since May of last year. However, case and death numbers have seen a slight uptick over the last week.

Regarding mask use, 91 percent of respondents believe that adequate face coverings should be mandatory until the pandemic is completely under control. Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has long been opposed to the use of masks, and is awaiting the results of a Health Ministry study to announce the end of mask obligations in Brazil.

Bolsonaro’s son and his Agriculture Minister test positive for coronavirus

Janaína Camelo
Sep 24, 2021 10:04 ( Updated: Sep 24, 2021 10:50 )

Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to news website R7 — which confirmed the diagnosis with the politician. He took part in the Brazilian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City this week. Two other people within the mission also contracted the coronavirus — including Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga.

Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president’s third-eldest son, is also his most trusted advisor for international affairs. He helped his father write his UN General Assembly address, tearing up a previous, more moderate draft penned by Brazilian diplomats.

Over 50 people in the Brazilian government are in quarantine after taking part in the Brazilian mission to the United Nations General Assembly, due to Mr. Queiroga’s diagnosis. The Health Minister will remain in New York City until he completes a 14-day mandatory quarantine. 

On his traditional Thursday Facebook Live Broadcast, President Bolsonaro said two well-known people had tested positive. “I am one of them,” Eduardo Bolsonaro told R7.The other appears to be Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina, who announced on Friday having tested positive for the coronavirus. Ms. Cristina recently met with Infrastructure Minister Tarcísio Freitas and Marquinhos Trad, the mayor of Campo Grande, the capital of center-western state Mato Grosso do Sul.

UPDATE: Solicitor General Bruno Bianco has also tested positive for the coronavirus, his press advisors say.

São Paulo governor to allow football fans to return to stadiums

Gustavo Ribeiro
Sep 24, 2021 9:03

After pleas from the five São Paulo clubs which play in the first division of Brazilian football, Governor João Doria decided to allow fans to return to stadiums as of October 4. The governor announced on Twitter that stadiums can operate at 30 percent capacity at first, rising to 50 percent by October 15, and then scrapping attendance limits by November 1.

To gain entry, fans will either have to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated or take a Covid test beforehand.

Brazilian clubs have been warring over the right to invite fans back to their stadiums, being desperate to once again receive revenue from gate receipts. The country’s best-supported club Flamengo sparked controversy when it obtained a court injunction allowing fans to attend its home matches, and the club had a near full house at the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday night for its Copa Libertadores semi-final tie.

As things stand, however, Bahia is the only top division side yet to receive guarantees from its state government that it will be able to host fans at home matches as of next month.

Brazilians set to flock to Argentina amid reopening

Ignacio Portes
Sep 23, 2021 11:39

Brazilian tourists have responded en masse to Argentina’s announcement that it would lift most Covid restrictions earlier this week. Search queries for trips to Buenos Aires in the last quarter of 2021 rose 92 percent on the Kayak online ticket platform. 

On travel agent Decolar (part of the Despegar group, the leading online travel company in Latin America), Brazilian demand for tickets to Argentina was up 38 percent this Tuesday when compared to one week ago.

As of October, Brazilians will be able to travel to Argentina without the need for quarantine on arrival, provided they present proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before the trip. Tourists will take an antigen test on arrival and a subsequent PCR test five to seven days later.

The same rules will apply to Chileans, Bolivians, Paraguayans, and Uruguayans, while visitors from non-neighboring countries will be able to visit as of November 1.

As soon as 50 percent of the Argentinian population is fully vaccinated, requirements for tests on arrival will be dropped. Sixty-five percent of the country has taken a first dose of vaccination, while 45 percent are fully immunized.

Bolsonaro cancels trip following Covid cases on UNGA mission

Janaína Camelo
Sep 22, 2021 14:27 ( Updated: Sep 22, 2021 15:33 )

President Jair Bolsonaro was scheduled to make an official visit to the southern state of Paraná on Friday, but canceled his plans following news that Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga has tested positive for the coronavirus. Mr. Queiroga accompanied the president on his trip to the UN General Assembly in New York City this week. 

Mr. Queiroga was the second Covid case within the delegation, and Brazil’s federal health regulator Anvisa recommended that the roughly 30 people who traveled to New York City should be isolated for two weeks.

A meeting Mr. Bolsonaro was supposed to attend today was held online.

The case is reminiscent of March 2020, when multiple persons within Mr. Bolsonaro’s delegation to the U.S. contracted the coronavirus. Early that month, Mr. Bolsonaro had dinner with then-U.S. President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago hotel in Florida. After that trip, at least 22 members of the presidential entourage tested positive for Covid-19. As of March 19, 2020, 3 percent of all cases in Brazil had shared a plane with the president.