Argentina, Bolivia, restrict travel to and from coronavirus-hit countries


BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Argentina has temporarily stopped issuing visas to travelers from countries hardest-hit by the coronavirus outbreak, including the United States, China and countries in Europe, while Bolivia has barred flights to and from Europe, in a bid to stem the spread of the virus within the region.

The Argentine government’s decision, published in the Official Gazette on Thursday, comes a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) said the coronavirus outbreak was a pandemic, and the United States restricted travel from Europe.

The decree also suspends visa issuance to people from South Korea, Japan, Iran, Britain and many European countries.

Bolivia´s decision to suspend European flights was announced by interim president Jeanine Anez on Thursday.

Anez said all schools would be suspended until the end of the month and public gatherings of more than 1,000 people banned. Several candidates campaigning for the May presidential election have said they would cancel rallies.

Bolivia has three cases of the coronavirus, and one of them involved a 65-year-old woman who was turned away from several hospitals on Wednesday by local residents and medical staff concerned about the virus´ spread.

Argentina has so far registered 21 confirmed coronavirus cases and one death. All the cases so far have involved people who had recently traveled abroad, mostly to Europe.

Argentina´s immigration authority said the “rapid worldwide spread” of the virus had led to the new measures to tighten the country’s borders.

The city government in capital Buenos Aires announced on Thursday it would ban public attendance at sporting events and large-scale gatherings to limit the spread of the virus, state news agency Telam reported.

Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Bernadette Baum