Student trips, the beaches of the Mexican Caribbean and the massive contagion of dozens of Argentine teenagers. This is the latest scandal that has shaken Mexico and Argentina in the middle of the covid-19 pandemic. Argentine authorities are investigating the case of 44 students who boarded their return flight from Cancun without complications, but tested positive for the virus as soon as they landed at Ezeiza airport in recent days. Local media report that at least 30 other students were infected in the same destination.
“It is striking that they left Argentina with a PCR paid by us in a private place that tested negative, they were there for seven days and on the fourth day they did another PCR in a laboratory for which we paid 100 dollars to the agency. They all tested negative, but when they arrived here, of the 40 who were traveling, 12 tested positive, ”says Eduardo Raimondi, father of one of the infected students. At least 165 other students remain isolated.
Raimondi assures that he learned through comments from some parents that adolescents from other schools had tested positive when they returned from Cancun and warned that everyone should go and look for their children with the maximum possible precautions. “As we all know that on graduate trips they sleep little and have an important rhythm, when he arrived re against tired we thought it was just that, but no, he was sick,” he says. This 65-year-old doctor denounces that the established protocols were breached and assures that the number of infected would have been even higher if 15 of the students had not previously contracted the virus.
“Isn’t it very crazy or too coincidental that there is no positive guy there and everyone here? In the middle they got on a plane, ate on the plane, that is, they took off their chinstrap because the flight lasts seven hours. They went to the bathroom. Anyway. Surely it is because I am badly thought out, ”tweeted journalist Nancy Pazos, mother of another of the infected students. “If they test positive there [los de la agencia de viajes] they have to leave the boy isolated, keep paying for his stay, change the ticket air and the insurance contemplates paying the passage of a father so that he goes to accompany it ”, has added Pazos.
Argentina has its borders closed to tourism. However, since October it has allowed Argentines and residents to travel abroad as long as they present an affidavit in which they are responsible for unforeseen events that may arise in relation to their health. Upon their return, they must present a negative test for the virus carried out 72 hours prior to shipment, another sworn statement and remain in isolation for seven days at their Argentine home.
In 2020, the covid-19 pandemic forced the characteristic graduate trips with which many students celebrate the end of their secondary studies to be suspended for the first time. Most parents canceled their children’s trips, but others chose to reschedule them for 2021. “If in 2019 we had a weekly movement of between 8,000 and 10,000 student passengers, today it is between 1,000 and 1,200,” says Adrián Manzotti, of the commission of Student Tourism of the Argentine Federation of Travel and Tourism Business Associations.
The Secretary of Tourism of Quintana Roo – the Mexican state where destinations such as Cancun, Tulum and the Mayan Riviera are located – argued that the differences in the results of the tests applied in both countries may be due to the incubation times of the virus. “It is feasible that a negative test or so-called” false negative “is given and that a few days later, this same person reflects the positive result,” read a statement.
From Argentina, on the other hand, the infections have aroused suspicions about an alleged falsification of medical tests. “PCRs are being falsified, which is very serious and puts at risk not only the person but the group of people who traveled on the plane because it is no longer one person but 30 or 40 people and the aerosols are much greater”, he has said this Tuesday the head of the Buenos Aires health portfolio, Daniel Gollán.
From these cases, the Argentine Ministry of Health has once again discouraged non-essential travel abroad and has issued a decree with new restrictions to lower the frequencies of international flights. In addition, it plans to tighten controls on arrival. In the Southern Cone they hope that these infections serve as an example.
In Mexico the exact opposite is sought. With the Easter season at the door, the local authorities have treated the news as a circumstantial fact and have attributed the outbreaks to the lack of care of the visitors. “Not all the people who visit us stay within the certified facilities and distance, the use of face masks, frequent hand washing and the use of alcohol gel are not necessarily respected at all times in other spaces they visit”, said the Secretary of Tourism of Quintana Roo.
“This Easter we expect to receive more than 665,000 visitors in the 12 destinations that the State has,” said Marisol Vanegas, Minister of Tourism of Quintana Roo, in an interview with this newspaper last week. In mid-February, a few days before the start of spring break, state authorities relaxed sanitary restrictions against the pandemic. Vanegas defended that the measures are essentially the same and that there has been a deployment in coordination with the companies to guarantee that the stays are safe. The official said that they are prepared for the arrival of travelers, even less than the 980,000 visitors registered in the last two December.
Although Mexican beaches have exploded in the trends of the main flight search engines around the world, the authorities expect that in the next few days seven out of 10 tourists in Quintana Roo will be Mexican. “For Quintana Roo, we expect there to be a peak in covid-19 cases after Easter, although out of date due to incubation time,” warns Jorge Baruch Díaz Ramírez, in charge of the Traveler’s Clinic at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. The specialist points to the relaxation of the measures and the increase in social interaction as triggers for the rebound. “The behavior of each person affects half the risk, especially in public spaces and common areas of contagion,” he adds.
Riquelme’s son does not isolate himself
In Argentina, the fact that students were from exclusive private schools has intensified criticism and reopened the debate on the prohibition of this type of non-essential travel that increases the risk of spreading the covid. It has also caused great discomfort that the son of Boca Juniors idol Juan Román Riquelme, Agustín, violated the isolation imposed on those who return to Argentina. Agustín Riquelme also participated in one of the graduate trips to Cancun last week, but left his home to attend the classic between his club and River Plate at La Bombonera last Sunday. The club is exposed to a financial sanction.
Mexico’s approach is the opposite. Despite the pandemic, Mexico was the third most visited country in the world last year, with some 25 million travelers, according to the World Tourism Organization. While a large number of countries have opted for border closures and travel restrictions, the North American country has preferred a more relaxed policy, despite registering nearly 2.2 million infections and more than 195,000 deaths, according to official figures. Díaz Ramírez points out that the policies are not comparable due to the different socioeconomic characteristics of each country, although he urges the Mexican Government, which has its third source of income in tourism, to have a clearer communication strategy, especially aimed at travelers. nationals. “We need travelers who are responsible for their health and collective health,” says the specialist.
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