• The San Juan Daily Star

All travelers to PR must fill out COVID declaration form

Health Secretary Carlos Mellado López

By John McPhaul

Island Health Secretary Carlos Mellado López announced over the weekend that as of today, Dec. 6, all passengers entering Puerto Rico, regardless of vaccination status or place of origin, must complete the Traveler’s Declaration Form (TDF) to facilitate symptom monitoring through the Sara Alert.

“As we well anticipate, we are reinforcing the measures we have in airports to protect citizens, taking into account that there is a variant circulating that appears to be more contagious than the others,” the Health secretary said in a written statement. “We have the strictest protocols regarding airports, so the changes are minimal, but it is important to continue effective surveillance.”

Also, travelers coming from a domestic destination, who are not fully vaccinated, must present a negative test carried out 72 hours prior to arrival, complying with the provisions of Administrative Bulletin OE-2021-037. In addition, it remains in force that passengers who fail to bring the test will have to take it in Puerto Rico within the first 48 hours after arrival and upload the result to their profile in the TDF.

Similarly, all passengers entering Puerto Rico from an international destination must comply with the negative test requirement established by the federal authorities concerned.

Since the end of October, the requirement to complete the TDF for those vaccinated who will present the Vacu Id as evidence has been replaced. To increase surveillance, the necessary public health measures are retaken through the new Administrative Order 2021-523.

Mellado López noted that the plan established by the Health Department to continue addressing the pandemic during the coming weeks is about reinforcing the measures that have already been implemented and continuing to promote individual protection. The measures are as follows:

* Strengthen genomic surveillance efforts for epidemiological variables of interest (travelers in the last 14 days, destinations of interest, age groups, severity, among others) to continue monitoring the omicron and other possible variants of interest that may arise in the future.

* Promote early detection through viral tests, prioritizing molecular tests.

* Continue vaccination efforts to the island population (5 years and older), mainly booster doses in residents of long-term care homes and population 65 years of age or older.

* Reinforce compliance with prevention and mitigation measures (use of masks, regulation of mass gatherings, hand washing, ventilated spaces, etc.).

* Reinforce compliance with these and other measures through the Department’s Investigations Office.

The Sara Alert is an online tool that allows you to monitor the occurrence of symptoms in travelers entering Puerto Rico. Through the tool it has been possible to monitor the symptoms of more than 4,882,262 passengers who have arrived on the island since July 15, 2020. In the period in which the Sara Alert has been activated, 6,764 positive cases have been detected, thus making it possible to interrupt the chain of transmission of the virus.

As of Saturday, 65,183 children between 5 and 11 years old had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, 14,852 of which had received second doses. Meanwhile, 464,760 booster doses had been administered for the population 18 years of age and older and recorded, as reflected in the Data Entry System of the Department of Health’s Vaccination Program.

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