Friday, June 14, 2024

López-Gatell criticizes testing travelers for Covid: ‘Sick people don’t travel’

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell has dismissed the need for Mexico to require people entering the country to present a negative Covid-19 test result, asserting that such a measure would have a minimal impact on the coronavirus situation here and that sick people generally don’t travel.

The coronavirus point man noted that some airports in Mexico are asking people to present a negative test result in light of the decision by the United States, Canada and other countries to require international air travelers to prove they they are not infected with the virus.

López-Gatell said the World Health Organization does not support the pre-travel testing requirement, adding that it is not a particularly effective measure to combat the pandemic.

He said if there is already widespread and active community transmission of the coronavirus in a country, the contribution that international travelers could make to worsening the situation is “frankly small,” even when they come from a nation with high infection levels because “among other things, it’s well documented that travelers are generally people of low risk or low probability of having an active [Covid-19] illness precisely because, in general, people don’t travel while sick.”

“Of course it’s possible that some people who travel are in the incubation period and they could be in a pre-symptomatic period in which they could be transmitters [of the virus],” López-Gatell conceded.

The deputy minister also said that requiring travelers entering Mexico to present a negative Covid-19 test result would have an adverse effect on tourism.

Meanwhile, Canada’s recently-announced hotel quarantine requirement for people entering that country faces opposition from the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a Canadian legal advocacy organization.

It announced that immediate legal action was being prepared against the Trudeau government over the declaration that Canadian residents will be subject to mandatory quarantine, at their own expense, after returning from international travel, regardless of their negative Covid status.

“These measures are a blatant violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the right to enter and leave Canada, the right to liberty and security of the person, the right to not be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned, the right to retain legal counsel, and the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.”

The Justice Centre said Friday that it had come to its attention that the Canadian government “is already arresting Canadians arriving in the country by air and transporting them to a secret location, even though they possess a negative PCR test.”

The Canadian Snowbird Association also wrote to Alghabra to ask that its members be exempt from mandatory hotel quarantine because they left Canada months before the new rule was announced.

“To force Canadian citizens to pay over [CAD] $2,000 for three nights of accommodation in a government-approved hotel is unreasonable and would be a hardship for many,” the association said.

While the Justice Center claimed that people are being detained upon arrival at Canadian airports, Canada’s mandatory hotel quarantine program has not yet started. However, it could start as soon as Thursday, Alghabra said on Sunday.

The mandatory three-day hotel quarantine requirement for travelers entering Canada, that country’s negative Covid-19 test requirement and especially its three-month suspension of flights to Mexico, are expected to have a significant impact on Mexico’s ailing tourism sector.

Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco said that up to 791,000 fewer tourists will come to Mexico as a result of the suspension and that tourism sector revenue could decrease by US $782 million.

Source: El Economista (sp), Montreal Gazette (en) 

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