Brazil’s coronavirus death toll rose to seven on Thursday, including the first fatalities in tourist hotspot Rio de Janeiro, as Latin America’s largest nation closed more borders to visitors and the foreign minister waded into a diplomatic spat with China, APA reports quoting Reuters.
The Rio state government said the two deaths were a 63-year-old diabetic woman in the hilly interior of Rio de Janeiro state and a 69-year-old man, also diabetic, in the city of Niteroi.
The state of Sao Paulo later reported the death of a 77-year old man, bringing the country’s toll to seven. Earlier, the Health Ministry said the number of confirmed cases had risen to 621, an increase of 193 from Wednesday.
President Jair Bolsonaro, who has faced criticism for his lax handling of an outbreak he initially called a “fantasy,” issued a decree restricting entry of foreign visitors at land borders with Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana. On Wednesday, Brazil began turning away Venezuelans at the border.
As Bolsonaro closed borders, his foreign minister Ernesto Araujo appeared to fan the flames of a diplomatic spat with China started on Wednesday by the president’s son Eduardo who blamed the spread of the virus on a failed cover-up of the initial outbreak by the Asian giant.