What Brazil is doing to prevent the coronavirus from entering the country

. Feb 07, 2020
coronavirus brazil Airport in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. Photo: B.Zhou/Shutterstock

After being pushed through Congress at break-neck speed, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro sanctioned a bill giving the government legal support to carry out emergency measures in its efforts to prevent the novel coronavirus outbreak from reaching the country.

The new rules will be enforced only while the World Health Organization considers the outbreak a “global emergency.” Since its identification by Chinese authorities in mid-December, coronavirus infections have killed over 600 people—while the number of confirmed cases has surpassed 31,000.

</p> <div class="flourish-embed" data-src="visualisation/1292761"><script src=""></script></div> <div class="flourish-embed" data-src="visualisation/1356672"><script src=""></script></div> <p>It is important to note that most of the human toll of this outbreak has been restricted to mainland China—more precisely the province of Hubei. Latin America has remained free of the coronavirus, with the sole infection of an individual from the region being an Argentinian on a cruise ship currently docked in Yokohama, Japan. So far, the main risks for Brazil are financial, with several industries facing shortages in input for the next few weeks, as we explained in our <a href="">February 7 Daily Briefing</a> (premium subscription <a href="">required</a>).</p> <p>But Brazilian authorities don’t want to leave anything to chance.</p> <p>The government was praised by many infectious disease experts for trying to get ahead of the outbreak. “It is important to be prepared to prevent the first confirmed infection from creating a transmission chain in the country,” said Esper Kallas, an infectious disease specialist from the University of São Paulo.&nbsp;</p> <div id="buzzsprout-player-2608606"></div> <script src=";player=small" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Brazil’s law to prevent coronavirus</h2> <p>The law has given enormous powers to authorities, obligating all public institutions to turn in citizens’ personal data when necessary for the identification of infected patients—or those with suspected infections. Private companies will also have to comply if requested by sanitary authorities.</p> <p>Besides being able to forcefully place patients in quarantine, the government will be able to compel people to take lab tests, collect clinical samples, take vaccines, or follow &#8220;specific medical treatments.&#8221; Even permissions to exhume, cremate, or “handle” corpses were included in the bill.</p> <h2>Other important issues</h2> <ul><li>The law lifts the strict rules of public bidding processes for products and services related to the fight against the coronavirus outbreak—but the government will have to publish detailed information all of its purchases and contracts. That window, once again, will only be valid while the virus is considered to be a global emergency.</li><li>The government will also be allowed to authorize imports of products that haven’t been cleared by the National Sanitary Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), as long as they have been approved by regulatory agencies in other countries.</li><li>It will be possible to impose “emergency and temporary restrictions” of exits and arrivals to the country if so advised by Anvisa, whether this be on roads, ports, or airports.</li><li>Patients with suspected cases of the virus will receive free treatment, family care, paid leave from work, and the right to be “ permanently” informed about their health status.

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Gustavo Ribeiro

An award-winning journalist, Gustavo has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics and international affairs. He has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets and founded The Brazilian Report in 2017. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science and Latin American studies from Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris.

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