If, as of today, visitors on United States and international flights arriving in Puerto Rico do not activate the SARA Alert application —with the information necessary to track them during their stay— or after reaching the Island they deactivate it, the health authorities will have a greater challenge in the fight against the advance of Covid-19.
That is one of the great challenges for the government after identifying the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, in San Juan, as the gateway of travelers who have been related to outbreaks of Covid-19 infection registered in different parts of the Island. These cases have mainly been related to relatives who reside in the United States and came to visit and were positive for coronaviruses.
José Juan Reyes, assistant general of the National Guard and in charge of the government operation in the screening of visitors arriving by air, said yesterday to EL VOCERO that beyond of the guidelines for entering Puerto Rico, the important thing is that all information reaches tourists and follow it.
“The great challenge is to make sure that this message is socialized and shared with all airlines, because airlines they are the ones that are going to help guide passengers prior to buying the ticket and let them know through the system that in Puerto Rico there is an executive order that establishes those requirements, "said Reyes, also stressing the personal responsibility of each citizen. to guide that guest or family member who arrives on the Island in the midst of the pandemic.
Executive Order 2020-052 signed by Governor Wanda Vázquez provides that as of today every passenger arriving at the island's airports from the United States United or any international destination will be considered a person with reasonable suspicion of having been exposed to Covid-19, so a negative result should be on hand.
The impo rtancia of the digital application SARA Alert (Situational Awareness and Response Assistant) is for people to enter their data and also the symptoms they identify daily, if applicable. That information can be viewed by Health Department staff in real time. The initiative is funded by federal funds and is open to all local and state jurisdictions so that health agencies can monitor Covid-19 and identify sources of infection.
According to Reyes, if a person does not enter the information into the SARA Alert application, it will be very difficult to confront it and be able to follow it up. For these purposes, it announced that 35 computers have been established at the airport so that, upon arrival in Puerto Rico, passengers fill in the required information.
"Passengers who come to Puerto Rico from tomorrow (today) onwards, 72 hours prior to coming to Puerto Rico, they have to undergo a molecular test, they have to enter an application developed by the Department of Health and Aerostar to upload the result of that test, "Reyes warned.
He added that in his absence If the molecular test has been carried out before arriving in Puerto Rico, all passengers will have to remain in quarantine for 14 days and will be monitored by Health using the SARA Alert application.
Thousands of visitors will arrive today  For today, the itinerary to Puerto Rico totals 88 flights, coming from Atlanta, Hartford, Boston, Baltimore, Washington, Dallas, Newark, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Santo Domingo, St. Thomas, St. Croix and Tampa. There are also domestic flights from Culebra, Mayagüez and Vieques.
The executive order establishes that medical screening will continue at the airport and that the person presenting symptoms associated with Covid-19 will undergo serological testing. If the result is negative, you will be given a referral for the molecular test. On the other hand, if the result is positive, the molecular test will be performed at the airport.
In either case, the passenger must remain in quarantine until they receive the negative molecular test result and report it to the authorities. concerned. Upon arrival in the country and during their stay, visitors will be required to complete a traveler's declaration and compulsory use of a mask or scarf in the area of the nose and mouth.
People who do not comply with the protocol they are exposed to six months in prison and / or a fine of no more than $ 5,000.
In a letter dated July 12, the executive director of the Tourism Company, Carla Campos, told the airlines that “to all passengers they will be required to complete a travel declaration that must be completed digitally and submitted through www.travelsafe.pr.gov or www.viajeseguro.pr.gov ”. Campos pointed out in the letter that this online place will be available starting today.
Since March 16 —when the first quarantine for Covid-19 came into effect— Until yesterday 2,037 molecular tests had been carried out at the airport. In addition, 42,930 serological tests have been carried out at the airport from April 17 to the present. Of these 42,930 rapid tests, 1,801 have yielded positive results for coronaviruses.
To implement the new rules for travelers, the government invested millions of dollars. From the outset, Salud established a contract with Quest Diagnostic for $ 7.5 million for 100,000 molecular tests, and extensive logistics that involves the hiring of 350 people, as well as an investment in technological infrastructure, which includes 202 computers and 303 cell phones, according to the announcement of the June 30.
In written statements to EL VOCERO Salud indicated that the computers were acquired through CP Corp. and that the total investment of the computers is $ 222,200 through funds from Cares. On the other hand, it did not report whether the 350 people have already been hired and it was only said that they will maintain functions until December 30.
The estimated investment in salary payment will be approximately $ 6.3 million in funds from the items of the Cares Act .
In addition, Salud said that the evidence acquired is to meet the needs of all citizens, in accordance with the situations that arise during the tra The emergency is not in the exclusive use of the airport.
The agency is in the process of establishing agreements with other reference laboratories to support the government in the analysis of the samples.