Argentina calls for extreme caution over arrival of Delta Covid-19 variant

Buenos Aires, Jul 13 (EFE).- Argentine authorities on Tuesday called on the public to exercise extreme caution due to the presence in the country of the Delta variant of Covid-19, which so far has been detected in 15 people who arrived from abroad but which is still not circulating by community spread.

“It required from all of us great focus to be able to comply with the prevailing protocols and regulations. And if we do that, certainly we will reduce as much as possible the community spread – that is, the risk that someone, by being in the city, could become infected with that variant,” the health minister for the city of Buenos Aires, Fernan Quiros, told the media.

As the national Health Ministry reported on Monday, so far of the 15 Delta cases detected, nine of them have been discovered in the past week in travelers coming from the United States, Mexico and Paraguay.

Of those 15 people, five tested positive at the Buenos Aires international airport, the country’s main entry port, although they were asymptomatic when then arrived.

However, two of them developed symptoms in subsequent days during their isolation period in local hotels.

The 10 others tested negative upon entering Argentina but positive during the obligatory isolation period at their homes after their trip, with eight developing symptoms and two remaining asymptomatic.

The ministry said that four of the travelers had been vaccinated on their trip abroad.

Quiros said that “it is clear” that the Delta variant is being brought into Argentina by people who are returning to the country, and so he emphasized the need for everyone entering from abroad to comply with the quarantine measures set forth by the government.

Commenting along the same lines was the head of the Cabinet of Ministers for Buenos Aires province, Carlos Bianco.

“Out in the world, … variants, strains, much more contagious and dangerous like the Delta variant, are circulating. What we’re doing with these safety measures is just avoiding having (them) come to our province and moderating the arrival, and we’re hoping that the spread never occurs as … community spread,” he said at a press conference.

Argentina, which has registered 4,662,937 positive coronavirus tests since the pandemic started and has suffered 99,255 Covid-19 deaths, is keeping its land borders closed and prohibiting the entry of foreigners who do not live in the country, as it continues to pursue its nationwide vaccination campaign.

However, two weeks ago the government also tightened restrictions for the entry of Argentines, setting at 600 the maximum number of people who can enter the country on a daily basis, a move that sparked strong condemnation from airlines, who had to reschedule flights, and from people who were waiting to return home.

This past weekend, the government announced an increase in that cap, establishing 5,200 as the number of people who can enter Argentina by air during the week of July 10-16, a figure that will rise to 6,300 from July 17-23 and to 7,000 from July 24-Aug. 6.

Anyone entering Argentina must be able to document a negative coronavirus test performed within the previous 72 hours and undergo an antigen test as soon as they arrive, both at airports and at the port of Buenos Aires.

If a person tests positive upon arrival, they must isolate in specific hotels in the capital.

Other travelers have to remain isolated during the seven days after entry, when they must undergo another Covid-19 test.

“We’ve identified up through (Tuesday) a number of people who, upon arriving in Argentina, had no symptoms of the illness and had negative PCR tests and local tests and, in spite of that, in the subsequent seven days either they developed symptoms or (in the test on the seventh day) we determined that they tested positive. A proportion of those who tested positive had the Delta variant,” said Quiros. EFE


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