The latest scandal has shaken Mexico and Argentina amid the coronavirus 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 the last few days. Local media report that at least 30 other students were infected at the same destination.
Argentina has closed its borders on tourism. However, since October it allows Argentines and residents to travel abroad as long as they submit a sworn statement in which they take responsibility for any unforeseen events that may arise about their health. Upon their return, they must submit a negative test for the virus 72 hours before embarkation, another affidavit, and remain isolated for seven days in their Argentine domicile.
In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic forced us to suspend for the first time the characteristic graduation trips with which many students celebrate the end of their high school studies. Most parents canceled their children's trips, but others opted to reschedule them for 2021.
The Ministry of Tourism of Quintana Roo -the Mexican state where destinations such as Cancun, Tulum, and the Riviera Maya 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," reads a statement. From Argentina, on the other hand, the contagions have aroused suspicions about the alleged falsification of medical tests.
As a result of these cases, the Argentine Ministry of Health has once again discouraged non-essential travel abroad and has issued a decree with new restrictions to reduce the frequency of international flights. In addition, it plans to tighten controls on arrival. In the Southern Cone, they hope that these contagions will serve as an example.
In Mexico, the exact opposite is being sought. With the Holy Week season approaching, local authorities have treated the news as a circumstantial event and have blamed the outbreaks on the lack of care taken by visitors. "Not all people who visit us stay inside certified facilities and not necessarily at all times respect the distance, the use of masks, frequent hand washing, and the use of alcohol gel inside other spaces they visit," said the Ministry of Tourism of Quintana Roo.
In Argentina, the fact that the students were from exclusive private schools has intensified criticism and reopened the debate about banning this type of non-essential travel that increases the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
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.