Brazil has reopened international air travel to foreign tourists, which had been banned since March, even as its coronavirus outbreak ranks as the world's second-worst.
Tourists from all countries can travel to Brazil as long as they have health insurance for the duration of their trip, the government said in a decree on Wednesday which did not explain the rationale for the decision.
Bans on foreign travelers arriving by land or sea, however, were extended for another 30 days.
Brazil, the second worst-hit country after the United States, is reopening its air borders faster than other countries in the region with less severe outbreaks, such as Colombia, Argentina, Panama and Peru, which remain closed to international commercial flights.
While tourists can now visit Brazil, many countries have not taken reciprocal action due to the severity of the outbreak. The US and European Union, for example, are open for international travel but do not allow tourists from Brazil.
The country is hurtling towards the milestone of 100,000 deaths from the coronavirus.
The 69,074 new confirmed cases and 1,595 additional deaths reported on Wednesday -
President Jair Bolsonaro has fought against restrictions on economic activity, and the disease has advanced as governors and mayors have yielded to the pressure. In some cases, Brazilians have packed bars and crowded public squares without masks, often in defiance of local rules.
Last week, Brazil recorded 7,677 deaths, the most fatalities in any week since the pandemic began, defying repeated predictions that the outbreak had peaked.
Brazil is experiencing the worst phase of the pandemic, said Dr Alexandre Naime, head of the department of infectious diseases at Sao Paulo State University. Paradoxically, public policy and personal behaviour are going in the opposite direction, as if we are not living through a daily tragedy.
Brazil is facing a record economic contraction of 9.1 per cent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.
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