Coronavirus: Sao Paulo imposes COVID-19 restrictions as cases surge again

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The state of Sao Paulo, home to Brazil’s biggest city, imposed stricter social distancing measures on Monday as it wrestles to contain a fresh rise in COVID-19 cases.

Opening hours and capacities for bars, restaurants and shopping malls will be restricted in Brazil’s most populous state which has been the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus outbreak.

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Governor Joao Doria, speaking at a news conference to announce the measures, said the restrictions would not impact the reopening of schools.

COVID-19 has killed more than 170,000 people in Brazil, the world’s second-highest death toll behind only the US.

Cases are rising across the country again after a brief hiatus.

On Monday, the World Health Organization urged Brazil to be “very, very serious” about its rising coronavirus infection numbers, which Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described as “very, very worrisome.”

President Jair Bolsonaro has derided governors and mayors for imposing stay-at-home measures, saying the cost to jobs and the economy is too severe for a disease he dismissed as a “little flu.”The state restrictions come the day after municipal elections in which Doria’s ally, Bruno Covas, was re-elected as mayor of Sao Paulo. Critics accuse the state government of delaying the unpopular decision to impose new COVID-19 restrictions until after the vote. The government denies it dragged its feet over the move.

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