Colombia’s health ministry recommended incoming travelers to adopt stricter measures to prevent importing new and more infectious coronavirus strains.
Health Minister Fernando Ruiz initially resisted stricter conditions, but changed his mind amid growing concerns over new strains from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil that could reduce the effectiveness of vaccines.
The health ministry’s chief epidemiologist, Julian Fernando Niño, said the minister issued a decree in which it, among other things “recommends, not obliges” the use of special N-95 facemasks for travelers older than 60 or suffering comorbidities.
Airlines must demand passengers wear facemasks before and during the flight, and after arriving in Colombia where they are mandatory in public spaces.
During flights, airlines are expected to request passengers to keep conversations to a minimum.
Travelers are “recommended” not to travel if they show symptoms associated with the coronavirus, if they have been in touch with people who tested positive or tested positive themselves in the two weeks before their flight.
Incoming travelers from abroad were already obliged to show the results of a COVID-19 test proving they are not currently ill or present migration officers with a written explanation if they failed to get a test.
Among the new requisites are a mandatory health test via the Check-Mig phone app for air travelers entering the country.
People flying within Colombia are additionally expected to do a similar test on the Colombian “CoronaApp.”
The ministry announced the “recommendation” on top of the mandatory measures that were already in force a week before the Health Ministry and local authorities embark on an unprecedented vaccination campaign.
This National Vaccination Plan seeks to provide shots to 35 million of Colombia’s 50 million inhabitants before the end of the year.
Perceived carelessness by tourists at the beginning of the pandemic spurred a wave of xenophobia against foreign visitors and migrants in the country.