Brazil on Tuesday ruled out requiring a Covid-19 vaccination certificate for foreign travelers arriving in the country, despite a recommendation from the national health regulator.

The move came after far-right President Jair Bolsonaro compared such a mandate to a "leash" for animals.

Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga told reporters after a meeting at the presidency that "people cannot be discriminated between vaccinated and unvaccinated to impose restrictions."

However, Queiroga said that with the precise characteristics of the Omicron variant still unknown, Brazil will require "a five-day quarantine" for unvaccinated travelers, as recommended by the health regulator Anvisa.

After that period, and with a negative PCR test, foreigners traveling to the country as tourists "can take advantage of the beauties of our great Brazil," the minister said.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks next to Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga in June 2021 Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaks next to Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga in June 2021 Photo: AFP / EVARISTO SA

Until now, the only requirement had been to present a negative PCR test.

"Sometimes it is better to lose your life than to lose your freedom," Queiroga added, echoing Bolsonaro's own previous statements.

Ahead of the announcement, Bolsonaro, who has not been vaccinated, rejected Anvisa's request for a health passport.

"We asked, why the health passport? What is that leash that they want to put on the Brazilian people? Where is our freedom? I would rather die than lose my freedom," the former army officer said.

Brazil has suffered more than 615,000 Covid deaths since the start of the pandemic, second only to the United States in absolute numbers.