“So what? I am sorry. What do you want me to do? I’m Messias, but I can’t perform miracles,” he said in a reference to his middle name.
In Paraguay, soldiers enforcing anti-virus measures have dug a shallow trench alongside the main border road entering the city of Pedro Juan Caballero to prevent people from walking along the road from Brazil and disappearing into the surrounding city. Paraguay has fewer than 250 confirmed and its borders have been closed since March 24.
Argentinian officials say they are particularly worried about truck traffic from Brazil, their top trading partner. It is working to set up secure corridors where Brazilian drivers can access bathrooms, get food and unload products without ever coming into contact with Argentinians.
“Brazil worries me a lot,” Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez said on Saturday. “A lot of traffic is coming from Sao Paulo, where the infection rate is extremely high, and it doesn’t appear to me that the Brazilian government is taking it with the seriousness that it requires. That worries me a lot, for the Brazilian people and also because it can be carried to Argentina.”
One of eight known cases in the Argentinian state of Misiones is that of a 61-year-old truck driver who apparently caught the disease in Sao Paulo and then returned home, where he died after infecting his wife. Argentina has about 4000 cases and more than 200 dead, according to the Johns Hopkins tally.
Even officials in the United States, which has registered more than 1 million cases and more than 60,000 deaths, have expressed concern about Brazil.
Florida, which has a large population of people of Brazilian heritage, could face a threat of air travellers from Brazil carrying the virus to the state, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis told President Donald Trump in Washington.
“We could be away on the other side doing well in Florida, and then you could just have people kind of come in,” DeSantis said.
The governor said Trump’s ban of flights from China helped control the virus in the western US Trump asked him if that meant “cutting off Brazil.”
DeSantis replied that one possibility was “not to necessarily cut them off” but to require airlines to test passengers before they board planes bound for Florida.
Authorities in Colombia are also worried, said Julian Fernandez Nino, an epidemiologist at National University in Bogota.
“In a globalised world, the response to a pandemic can’t be closed frontiers,” he said. “Brazil has great scientific and economic capacity, but clearly its leadership has an unscientific stance on fighting coronavirus.”
In Uruguay, President Luis Lacalle Pou said the spread of the virus in Brazil was setting off “warning lights” in his administration and authorities are tightening border controls in several frontier cities.
Thirty workers recently crossed from Brazil to the Uruguayan border city of Rio Branco to help build a cement plant. Four tested positive for the virus, prompting Uruguay to place the whole crew in quarantine.
Officials in some Uruguayan border towns have discussed setting up “humanitarian corridors” through which Brazilians could safely leave the country.
Even socialist Venezuela, where the health system has been in a years-long state of collapse, has said it’s worried.
“I’ve ordered the reinforcement of the frontier with Brazil to guarantee an epidemiological and military barrier,” President Nicolas Maduro said on state television last week.
Bolivia’s government, a right-wing ally of Bolsonaro’s, declined to comment on its neighbour’s anti-virus measures, but Defence Minister Fernando Lopez promised this month to strongly enforce the closure of the border.
“If we keep being flexible on the border, our national quarantine will be useless,” he said.