Coronavirus
A health worker takes the temperature of arriving passengers in Mexico City. A health worker takes the temperature of arriving passengers in Mexico City.

CDMX airport ramps up passenger health checks to detect Covid-19

Arriving aircraft must notify the control tower if they have any passengers with symptoms

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Health authorities at the Mexico City airport are checking the temperature of international arrivals three times as part of increased efforts to detect possible cases of Covid-19.

The newspaper El Universal reported that passengers’ temperatures are first checked with an infrared thermometer as soon as they disembark from flights. Once inside the airport, international arrivals are subjected to a second temperature check with thermal imaging cameras.

Passengers later face a third temperature check with portable thermal imaging cameras when they are leaving the airport, the newspaper said.

Fifty workers including doctors, nurses and paramedics are responsible for conducting the temperature checks as well as more comprehensive health checks if required.

Jorge Ochoa Moreno, general director of health services at the Mexico City Health Ministry, said that arriving aircraft must notify the control tower if they have any passengers with Covid-19 symptoms on board.

A thermal imaging camera checks passengers as they arrive in Mexico City.
A thermal imaging camera checks the temperature of passengers as they arrive in Mexico City.

In the case that there is someone on board with flu-like symptoms, the plane parks in a “remote position” and medical personnel subsequently conduct “quick interviews” with the passengers and take their temperatures, he said.

Yareli Pérez, chief of the airport’s international health unit, said that if a passenger is found to have a temperature above 37.5 C, he or she is interviewed by medical personnel and subjected to a thorough health check.

Although passengers continue to arrive in Mexico City from countries where large numbers of people have been infected with Covid-19, no cases have been detected at the airport, Ochoa said.

While he said that all international passengers arriving at the Mexico City airport must pass through the various temperature check “filters,” a Canadian traveler who arrived at Terminal 1 in the capital last night on a flight from Medellín, Colombia, told Mexico News Daily that his temperature wasn’t taken even once and that he didn’t see anyone else have their temperature taken either.

As confirmed cases of Covid-19 increase in Mexico, the federal government is facing growing criticism for its response to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said Tuesday that the government is not planning to restrict the entry of foreign travelers, stating that there is no scientific evidence that shows that closing borders contains the spread of contagious diseases.

Speaking at his regular news conference on Wednesday, President López Obrador ruled out closing airports and implementing other tough measures such as closing restaurants, asserting that he wanted to avoid a complete shutdown of the economy that would hurt the poor.

“Close the airport, shut down everything, paralyze the economy. No,” he said. “Of course we’re worried about the situation of the epidemic, and we have to attend to it, but we also have to act responsibly.”

On Thursday morning, the president said that the government would not seek to restrict people’s freedoms or impose a curfew to limit the spread of Covid-19.

However, he appealed to people to stay at home, adding “I’m sure that they’ll listen to me.”

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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