While doubts remain regarding the mechanisms that the authorities should enforce their rulings, from 12:00 midnight, the administrative order issued by Ministry of Health Which imposes an automatic $ 300 fine on all passengers arriving on flights to Puerto Rico without evidence of a negative result on the molecular test for Covid-19.
The start of the new policy occurs a day after health announced the largest daily hospitalization count so far this year and within a week in which concerns were raised about potential injuries as hundreds of Puerto Ricans attended music events in Florida in recent days without respecting physical distancing recommendations.
although Administrative Order 499 Issued on April 19, yesterday the appointed Minister of Health, Carlos MiladoHe was unable to dispel all the doubts of the senators, who inquired about the enforcement of the decree during their passage session.
“We are facing a global emergency we all know, and although fortunately they are being vaccinated, the tests are being done and the residents are educated, we have a serious problem with the three international airports in Puerto Rico. I appreciate your sincerity in admitting that the system is not perfect. But that is.” Not enough. ”The famous senator said,“ There are millions of dollars earmarked in federal money from the Welfare Act. Resources are there and time is running out. ” Gretchen Howe In a press release after the conclusion of the session.
In short, the administrative order maintains the guideline that every traveler submits the negative result of a test that is performed within 72 hours before the flight arrives, without which they must remain in quarantine during their stay, but adds a fine of $ 300, which is only disposed of. If a person performed the molecular test within 48 hours or less.
If the passenger took the test during the period given to him, he must digitally upload it to his passenger declaration, which will automatically clear the fine.
The guide will have a particular impact on the population returning to Puerto Rico, a group of roughly 70% without a negative result, according to the data collected by Raphael Erizary, Professor of Biostatistics at Harvard university.
In the case of visitors, around 75% present their results upon arrival on the island.
The system is not perfect, but we are trying to create a deterrent […] There are some mechanisms to be able to tax the credit of the person who does not pay the fine. This is in the case of someone who does not live in Puerto Rico. Among the people who live in Puerto Rico, there is a mechanism before ( Department of Finance And they help us with that technical part of putting claws on it. But I understand that at a certain point, legislation will be needed so that we have more power to enable and strengthen the Bureau of Health Investigation and the police, ”Meladou said yesterday when asked about the ability to monitor compliance.
The administrative order also considers that if a person tests positive for Covid-19, they must pay for their medical expenses and the possible extension of their stay in the country, as they must remain in isolation until the Ministry of Health orders otherwise.
“I know it was very complicated because you remember why this Covid thing was new. But there was interest of the people of Puerto Rico and the world at large in controlling the airports. And since we cannot close them because we do not have jurisdiction or have a more restrictive procedure, within the same platform that is populated if The person has not filled out the announcement sheet, he automatically gets a form for payment by credit card, ”the official added at the Senate session, where he also reiterated that the long-awaited herd immunity against Covid-19 is expected by the end of the summer, although it undergoes developing variants Potential vaccine resistance to the virus.
Yesterday, specifically, health confirmed that six cases of the Brazilian variant have been detected in Puerto Rico P. 1, Is considered a “variable of concern” because it reduces the effectiveness of treatments against Covid-19 and the vaccines available.
Meanwhile, nearly 1.5 million people, according to the platform TiberiasIn Puerto Rico, administered by at least the first dose of the vaccine, about 55% of 2.7 million people 16 years of age or older are eligible for vaccination in the country. Herd immunity is considered to have been achieved when at least 70% of this population is fully immunized, that is, two weeks after the end of the vaccination cycle.
Yesterday, the largest number of patients admitted to hospital due to Covid-19 was observed since the record numbers for last December, reaching 558 cases, while the average number of deaths in April reached nearly six deaths per day, with an expected increase in data. As usual delays. In the official records it is corrected.
Meanwhile, new confirmed infections are still over 600 a day, after it reached 837 a day in the week that ended on April 15. In recent days, the percentage of positivity reached 11%, down from 13.4% that was reached in the second week of the month.
Sadot Santana Miranda contributed to this report.