• The Star Staff

Officials meet to reinforce screening of airline passengers

By John McPhaul


Puerto Rico National Guard (PRNG) Adj. Gen. José Reyes participated on Tuesday in a meeting with other government officials to reinforce the screening of passengers arriving at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, and possibly conduct COVID-19 tests.

“The answer must be yes, modified,” Reyes said in a radio interview when asked if tests will be done at the airport on a mandatory basis. “We cannot control air traffic and make impositions, but certainly as a ter- ritory, as a country, we can establish criteria for this screening process.”

As an example, he said that in Alaska each pas- senger is required to present the result of a 72-hour polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test. Otherwise, the compulsory test is done there.

“That could be an alternative to strengthen these medical screenings,” Reyes said. “Maybe a home quarantine plan could possibly be done … can be done. There are CARES Act funds that are available and arrangements could be made with hotels and people who have to quarantine, and be able to separate those hotels.”

The PRNG leader said that imposing such a determi- nation is in the hands of Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration

and airlines, state and federal agencies, among others. “Today [Tuesday] we have a meeting with the director of Tourism [Carla Campos] and with the attorney [Joel] Pizá [Batiz], who is the director of Ports, yours truly and the secretary of Health [Lorenzo González Feliciano],” Reyes said “We continue to look for al- ternatives for how we can improve this process at the airport.”

Reyes noted that an average of 6,000 to 7,000 passengers a day are now arriving on the island. The normal rate before the pandemic was 14,000 or 15,000 passengers. In addition, he said that currently 234,018 medical screenings have been performed at the airport -- 1,322 molecular tests and about 30,000 rapid tests.

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