Puerto Rico demands all new arrivals prove they are coronavirus free

Puerto Rico demands all new arrivals prove they are coronavirus free after outbreaks blamed on travelers

  • Puerto Rico has announced strict new measures for people flying to the island 
  • All new arrivals must take a coronavirus test 72 hours before they travel
  • If they test positive, or if they refuse, they must quarantine for 14 days on arrival 
  • It comes after recent outbreaks were blamed on coronavirus-positive travelers 

Puerto Rico will force all new arrivals to take a coronavirus or else quarantine for 14 days after a series of outbreaks blamed on infected travelers.

The island’s governor said the new rules will come into effect on July 15 and will mean that all travelers will have to take a molecular swab test 72 hours before they travel, and submit the results.

Anyone who refuses, or tests positive, will be forced to quarantine for 14 days on arrival. In order to be released from quarantine, they must submit a negative test.

The rules will also require all travelers to wear masks to stem the spread of the infection. Puerto Rico has reported 7,465 cases of the virus and 153 deaths.  

Puerto Rico will require all new arrivals to undergo a coronavirus test 72 hours before departure and share the results. Those who test positive, or refuse, will have to quarantine for 14 days on arrival (pictured, a test is carried out at the airport in Puerto Rico)

Health Secretary Lorenzo González said that only the results of a swab test taken 72 hours before departure will be accepted.

Results of antibody tests and any other test, including blood tests, will not count. 

‘If you don’t want to be tested, stay home. Don´t come here and complicate our situation,’ he said.

Most molecular tests involve a nose or throat swab and are used to diagnose an active infection.

The move mirrors restrictions applied by some European nations as they eased out of lockdowns in recent weeks, while trying to prevent a second wave of infections.

Puerto Rico, which has a population of 3.2million, is currently emerging from a lockdown that began in mid-March.

In order to enforce the quarantine, Gonzalez said a system known as ‘Sara Alert’ will randomly target those who are supposed to be isolating using texts, phone calls and personal visits. 

A graph of the daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Puerto Rico (blue bars) and the total number of confirmed cases (yellow line) up to June 29, the most recent data available

A graph showing the daily number of suspected cases in Puerto Rico (blue bars) and the total of suspected cases (yellow line) up until June 29, the most recent data available

Passengers who do not respond to text messages requesting health updates will be fined.

Gov. Wanda Vázquez said her administration will recruit 350 people to help with tracking and monitoring efforts.

‘We cannot let our guard down, especially with people who live elsewhere and are infected,’ she said.

The new rules come amid an alarming resurgence of cases in the U.S. mainland, with states like Texas, Florida and California backtracking on reopenings. 

Meanwhile, worldwide, officials report 500,000 confirmed deaths and 10 million confirmed cases.

Several weeks ago, Vázquez asked the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to temporarily ban commercial flights from cities in the U.S. mainland that are considered coronavirus hotspots. The FAA did not respond to that request.

The rules, which will kick in from July 15, will also force all travelers to wear masks after a spate of recent infections blamed on new arrivals (pictured, governor Wanda Vázquez in a mask)

Puerto Rico expects to receive up to 9,000 passengers a day in upcoming months, compared with the roughly 4,500 daily current arrivals, said Carla Campos, executive director of Puerto Rico´s Tourism Company.

Vázquez’s administration will require that all passengers fill a form prior to arriving in Puerto Rico with required information including where the test was taken. 

Vázquez also stressed that everyone has to wear a mask if they´re outside or going into a business.

Puerto Rico´s main international airport will continue to be the only one accepting all commercial flights, with no date yet on when other airports, including a smaller international one in the island´s northwest region, will reopen. 

Currently, passengers can voluntarily undergo a test at the Luis Muñoz Marín airport. 

More than 280,000 people have been tested, with more than 660 positive results, said Gen. José Burgos, commissioner of the island´s Emergency Management Bureau.

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