July 30, 2020 / 8:16 AM / 15 days ago

Brazil reopens international flights to tourists even as coronavirus deaths spike

FILE PHOTO: People are seen in Copacabana Beach amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 28, 2020. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

BRASILIA/SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil on Wednesday reopened international air travel to foreign tourists, which had been banned since March, even as the country’s coronavirus outbreak ranks as the world’s second worst.

Tourists from all countries may travel to Brazil as long as they have health insurance for the duration of their trip, the government said in a decree which did not explain the rationale for the decision.

Brazil, the country worst hit by COVID-19 after the United States, on Wednesday reported a record number of new deaths and confirmed cases.

Brazil 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.

Reuters reported the government’s intention to allow international air travel earlier on Wednesday.

While tourists may now visit Brazil, many countries have not taken reciprocal action due to the severity of the outbreak. The United States and European Union, for example, are open for international travel but do not allow tourists from Brazil.

Reporting by Ricardo Brito and Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Sandra Maler and Richard Chang

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