November 28, 2020

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Concern over Covid-19 entry through airport increasing

At a time when Florida registers an alarming number of cases of Covid-19, the close relationship of that state with Puerto Rico is of particular concern, from where an average of 25 to 30 flights arrive daily and, as explained by an epidemiologist there is practically nothing that can be done to prevent people infected with the deadly coronavirus from arriving and spreading it across the Island.

This Sunday, Florida registered a record number of 15,300 new cases of Covid-19. That brought the total number of confirmed chaos in the state to 269,811, according to data from the state Department of Health. Deaths rose to 4,242, including 95 in the past 24 hours.

Florida is known to have become home to hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans who have gradually established themselves there, particularly in areas near the city. from Orlando. Precisely from the airport in that city is where the largest number of daily flights arriving from Florida comes from, which usually hovers around 15.

Primera Hora tried to get the exact number of flights for this Sunday and the next few days through Aerostar, the operating company of the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, but the number was not immediately available.

It should be noted that, although the bulk of the flights from Florida arrive at the Isla Verde airport, a few also arrive at the airports. Ponce and Aguadilla.

Although reports from Florida indicate that the areas most affected by the coronavirus are around Miami (Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach counties), the Orlando and Kissimmee areas also reflect figures of significant contagion.

In addition to Florida, Puerto Rico also receives flights and passengers from other regions, such as New York, where there is also a high number of cont agios.

The government of Puerto Rico lacks the authority to determine the closure of the airport or the interruption of flights to the Island, since that power rests with the federal authorities and the president of the nation.

Added to this situation is the concern that, as announced, the government plans to open Puerto Rico to outside tourism in a matter of hours, on July 15. That opening could increase the number of flights and tourists arriving on the Island.

Currently, as explained by Aerostar executives last week, the airport is barely operating at between 25 to 30% of what it used to do before the crisis caused by the pandemic, with some days of increased traffic approaching 50%.

The operating company of the main airport announced an investment of over $ 700,000 to increase its health and safety protocols, following recommendations to combat Covid- 19.

In addition, in conjunction with the National Guard and the Department of Health, a screening area has been established for arriving passengers, in which the temperature is taken and Covid-19 tests are performed. [19659002] In announcing the opening to outside tourism, the governor indicated that visitors would be asked to bring a recent Covid-19 molecular test result indicating that it is negative, or would be tested Check on arrival. In any case, what will be done is ask the traveler to fill out a document with the information of where they will be staying, so that they can be located in case it is deemed necessary.

But, Dr. Cruz María Nazario explained, Such measures, however well-intentioned they may be, would be of little use, and it will be essential that people continue to strictly observe the recommendations for mask use, frequent hand washing and social distancing to avoid contagion.

"I believe that we are in a very critical moment for Puerto Rico. Especially because of the government's inability to control the entry of people from areas with high contagion, "said the epidemiologist, highlighting that other states have at least tried to control the entry of people from areas with more contagion, and other nations they have prohibited the arrival of people from those places, as is currently the case in Europe, where flights are not being received from the United States and Brazil.

The doctor condemned the idea that is intended to be given that taking the temperature of the people infected people could be detected and thus avoid the spread of the virus from the airport.

“To think that taking the temperature will solve. That doesn't solve anything. Taking a temperature has been shown not to identify a pathogen like Covid. It also does not work for influenza. That is something that scientists have already shown, "he denounced.

" In addition, 80% of those infected do not show symptoms, so they will go through there with a normal temperature, "he added.

" And in addition, the instrument has many problems, and there is scientific evidence that says that it is not reliable, that the machine cannot be trusted because it gives false positives or false negatives, ”he insisted, giving as an example that the person is traveling in air conditioning. and it is going to throw a low temperature when it could have a fever, or conversely, that it is in the sun in times of very hot weather and it throws a measurement of high temperature when in fact it does not have a fever.

“Here they want to cover the sun with a finger. Nobody talks to you about the validity of those devices. And we cannot think that at the airport, by taking the temperature, we are going to prevent infected people from entering, "he insisted.

" We are at a critical moment, when cases have increased in a very worrying way. And in the government because they are campaigning, and everything was opened to be able to be campaigning, "condemned the doctor, adding that, as people continue to arrive from these highly contagious areas, they will continue to bring the deadly virus with them.

" I reiterate that those measures do not resolve. And that that they are going to do a test upon arrival, is not a guarantee, because it takes about five days to confirm the case. And therefore they cannot do an effective tracking, because that person was already there as he wanted, and he met with people and did what he wanted, "he insisted.

" So what I can say is that we have to worry . Since the government cannot protect us from the entry of the virus into Puerto Rico, because people have to protect themselves, "he warned. “They have to always have the mask when we are in a group. Don't frequent places with a lot of people. And if there is someone without a mask in a closed place, you can get out of there. ”

He recalled that on the Island the conglomerates of cases have occurred due to infections in closed places, with groups of people celebrating some type of activity such as parties or wakes.

“We must keep protecting ourselves at all times, using the mask, washing our hands frequently, and keeping a distance of more than six feet. Avoid being in places with many people and especially if there are people without masks, "reiterated the epidemiologist.

He also recalled that, contrary to what some may believe," we all have the same risk of contagion. Everyone has the same chance of getting it. What happens is that some of us have a higher risk of dying, because we are older, because we have chronic conditions such as obesity, or diabetes. But we all have the same risk. "

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