Brazil's COVID chaos sparks fear, countermeasures from neighbors

A double header of soccer World Cup qualifiers was also called off this month after Colombia’s health minister said he would not allow a charter flight of Brazilian footballers to land in Colombia for the game.

Sports are just the beginning. Brazil’s neighbors and trading partners are taking steps to limit contact with South America’s largest country – and contemplating more draconian ones. The fear is that the progress many nations in the region have made against COVID-19 could be reversed by new waves of infection from Brazil, whose out-of-control pandemic is incubating virulent new strains that are worrying medical experts worldwide.

“It is a very alarming situation and a regional threat,” said Leda Guzzi, an infectious disease expert and member of the Argentina Society of Infectious Diseases.

Even crisis-torn Venezuela has plenty to say. On Sunday, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro called Brazil “the world’s worst threat in terms of the coronavirus” and chastised its leader, Jair Bolsonaro, for his “irresponsible attitude.”