The Federal Court in Guarulhos accepted the request of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) and determined that the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) should inform the airlines operating at the International Airport of Guarulhos (SP) which passengers coming from abroad must be quarantined and, therefore, they cannot board domestic flights soon after arriving in Brazil.
The 14-day quarantine was defined by Interministerial Ordinance 655/2021 and is mandatory for all travelers with origin or history of passage through South Africa, India and the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland.
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The decision was taken in the context of a public civil action, proposed by the MPF, with the objective of preventing the free movement of travelers, who are obliged to comply with quarantine, from Guarulhos Airport, which has the largest flow of international passengers in the country and, thus, reduce the risk of entry of people infected by the coronavirus, especially by the Delta variant.
As stated by the MPF and reinforced by the judge in the preliminary injunction, this strain has a viral load at least 1,000 times higher than the other strains, with a high rate of transmission.
In extrajudicial negotiations, Anvisa itself suggested providing the quarantine list to airlines. As this commitment was not put into practice, the MPF chose to file the public civil action. In a technical statement, the agency stated that it does not have “legal competence to standardize measures for the prevention and control of diseases or injuries, such as restricting the movement of people and disciplining the criteria for applying quarantine measures”.
According to the decision, however, “there is no legal basis to support the defendant’s refusal to transmit the data of travelers who must remain in quarantine to the airlines, quite the contrary, both the law establishing the regulatory agency and the Interministerial Ordinance No. 655/2021 are expressed in affirming the competence of Anvisa to edit complementary acts, with the purpose of promoting the operationalization and execution of the activities under its attribution”.
Quarantine on disembarkation – The injunction also emphasizes that the defendant’s claim that the quarantine could be carried out in a different location from the disembarkation is inappropriate. Quarantine is legally defined as restriction of activities or separation of people suspected of contamination from people who are not sick, in order to avoid contamination or propagation of the coronavirus”.
For the MPF, it is necessary to adopt measures to ensure compliance with the ordinance, signed by the Ministers of Civil Affairs, Health and Justice and Public Security, and prevent passengers from circumventing the mandatory quarantine, as happened with the first registered case of the Delta variant in Brazil. An infected person who had passed through India landed at Guarulhos Airport and, even after stating that he would do the quarantine, boarded a flight to Rio de Janeiro, putting the health of other passengers and crew at risk.
It is “inadmissible that the traveler in quarantine determined by law and which he himself has previously committed to comply with is able to board another domestic flight within the epidemiological surveillance area of the defendant regulatory agency, without any impediment”, states the injunction. Providing the airlines with the list of those to quarantine will prevent this from happening again.
If Anvisa does not comply with the decision of the Federal Court in relation to travelers with origin or passage through South Africa, India and the United Kingdom, including asymptomatic ones, it will have to pay a daily fine of R$ 100,000.
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