May 13, 2021

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The focus of contagion in Puerto Rico is at the airport, warns the medical task force

Concern about the dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in United States and, therefore, the potential focus of contagion in Puerto Rico through Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport were the points of discussion yesterday at the meeting held by the Governor Wanda Vázquez Garced with the Secretary of Health, Lorenzo González Feliciano, and members of the medical task force.

In addition, in the conclave the medical team warned of a decrease in the use of masks as a preventive measure against the spread of this virus and emphasized that its compulsory use in all public places be emphasized to try to minimize the transmission of this disease in the general population.

"The mandatory use of masks is the only thing that can contain the virus," said Dr. Pablo Rodríguez, director of the Trauma Hospital and member of the medical advisory group of La Fortaleza, who was present at the meeting.

According to the doctor, the flexibility in the use of this mode of protection is what has caused contagions in the United States to have shot up to a level almost out of control in states such as Florida and Texas, among others.

In fact, the United States yesterday registered some 40,000 new positive cases of COVID-19, which represents the highest number of confirmed infections in the country in a single day.

Rodríguez added that to Puerto Rico In the meantime, his life is gone in seeking greater control at airports to identify possible cases of this disease since, if he does not find a solution, the achievements that have been achieved with the curfew and other preventive measures against the virus will be lost.

"One of our weaknesses is that we have not achieved control of the airport" agreed Dr. William Méndez, director of the Department of Surgery of the Campus of Medical Sciences ( R CM) of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) and member of the Medical Advisory Council of La Fortaleza.

He recognized that the intensity with which cases have increased in the United States raises a red flag and in his analysis of the situation they noted that the common factor lies in the absence of the character of the use of masks.

"We recognize that it is desirable to put stricter controls at airports, but it is useless to make recommendations and not be able to implement them " , he said, referring to the legal obstacles that Puerto Rico faces because it is a United States territory and does not have control of the airport.

Méndez reported that the group favors the implementation of the model that was established in Hawaii, where from 1 August travelers will be required to submit a diagnostic test for the virus with a negative result as a requirement of entry to that state. Otherwise, they would be subject to a mandatory quarantine for 14 days.

“We are still in the process of evaluating different things that are consistent with what can be done within the legal (allowed) scope, but the mandatory test of the passengers entering would be ideal, "said Méndez.

He added that some exceptions could be allowed, for example in people who have to travel urgently, as in the case of the death of a relative. He stressed that outside the claws of the law, many components would have to be voluntary and depend on the person's good faith, honesty and willingness to cooperate.

"We are trying to put together the puzzle, for example, analyze the laws that regulate the territories versus those of the states, where we suppose there are some differences. So we asked the governor for an evaluation of the legal framework to see the differences between Hawaii and Puerto Rico, "he said.

Concerned with the reopening of cinemas and childcare centers

Méndez warned that the Family Department's administrative order on the reopening of childcare left out some details, particularly the guidelines for childcare zero to three years.

"(Childcare) is one of the areas that needs to be watched more closely and we gave some recommendations," he said.

As for the cinemas, he said they want "to be evaluated their air conditioning systems and ensure the compulsory use of masks, which perhaps collides and is not consistent when (people) are consuming drinks and food. ”

For his part, Dr. Segundo Rodríguez Quilichini, Rector of the RCM of the UPR, anticipated that next Ultimately the group will launch a massive educational campaign highlighting the importance of the use of masks as a measure of protection against this disease.

“We are going to have a new role in education (of this message). We know that in other states there have not been many restrictions on the use of masks and we have to reinforce their use, "he insisted.

Through Wilmelis Márquez, Health press spokesperson, it was reported that the Secretary of Health would not advance any of the topics discussed in the meeting that he had with the governor on Friday, which he described as “a normal working meeting prior to an administrative order.”

Meanwhile, the governor is expected to announce at any moment the new executive order to control the risk of COVID-19 contagion in Puerto Rico.

In past orders, it was insisted that everyone should wear masks, a cloth scarf or other material that covers the area of ​​the mouth and nose. Likewise, other preventive measures against this virus were requested, such as maintaining a minimum space of six feet between people and avoiding unnecessary crowds.

It was also established that any breach would entail the implementation of criminal sanctions and fines, including penalty of confinement of no more than six months and / or a fine not to exceed $ 5,000, as required by the court or any applicable law.

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