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COVID-19: Brazil opens borders. I wouldn’t go there even if I was allowed.

COVID-19: Brazil opens borders. I wouldn’t go there even if I was allowed.

Brazil is a beautiful place.

I have only been once, well technically according to my passport, twice, but on one visa. The double visit was caused by crossing borders at Iguazú Falls between the Argentinian and Brazilian side, recrossing and heading on to Rio for Carnival.

a large bird with wings and a flag in front of a crowd
The Sambadrome for Carnival in Rio, 2019

Brazil closed it borders back in March, at a similar time to when Australia closed theirs. The aim was to assist in the slowing down of the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, mainly through a lack of political leadership – President Bolsonaro referred to the virus as ‘a little flu’ and as ‘hysteria’ – and a wish to maintain the economy, not many successful initiatives were taken. Inconsistencies abounded, with shopping malls open, but parks closed.

Brazil has the 9th largest GDP, but is one of the world’s most unequal countries, with over a quarter of the population living in poverty. That inequality is also an enabler of the pandemic.

a graph of a number of covid-19 cases

COVID-19 infection rates in Brazil

Brazil is possibly the worst place to be if you want to avoid catching the coronavirus. It is currently topping the charts on the daily rate of COVID-19 cases per million of population (see above).

It ranks second in most confirmed coronavirus cases (2.6+ million) and also ranks second for coronavirus deaths (91K+), only beaten by the USA. New cases of COVID-19 keep increasing, and as of July 29 the country had reported more than 69,000 cases, the most it has recorded in any one day.

The chart below looks at cumulative cases.

a graph of a number of covid-19 cases
a group of people on a beach

Travelling to Brazil

Putting to one side the fact that Australians are, with some exceptions, not allowed to travel overseas at the moment. I still would not travel to Brazil, even if I could. Brazil has more than two strikes against it. It has:

  • the highest rate of COVID-19 infection, second only to the USA
  • the President, Jair Balsonaro, despite having caught the virus and given it to his wife, is still in denial about the pandemic and its effects on his country
  • the free universal health system of Brazil is near collapse in the face of the pandemic
  • they are opening their borders to international travellers – which I count as a contagion pathway

Anyway, at the moment, there are no direct flights with either Qantas or LATAM to any of South America.

a plate of food with a knife and fork
Giuseppe Grill, Leblon – possibly the best combination of grilled meat and great wine I have ever consumed.

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

I would love to go back to Brazil, for Rio, for Carnival, for the people, the food, for the rainforest, for the beaches, and for the men. But now is not the time.

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