Colombia’s health ministry, MinSalud has announced new rules affecting all air travelers to or in Colombia, effective April 7, 2021. To combat the COVID-19 Pandemic, no passengers, foreign or domestic, may fly if he or she has tested positive for COVID-19, has been in contact with a suspected case, or has symptoms.
Further, all air passengers must register using the CoronApp for domestic flights, and Check-Mig for international flights. These apps allow the government to track passengers, and the data is also compared to all COVID-19 exams taken within the country. Positive COVID-19 tests are automatically shared with the Colombian government.
“The reason we believe CoronApp is effective is because it now connects to the results of covid-19 samples and reveals whether people have tested positive in the last 14 days,” said Julián Alfredo Fernández Niño, MinSalud’s director of epidemiology and demography.
The new regulations, part of Resolution 411 of 2021, harmonizes and updates COVID travel measures for travelers. While some measures are more restrictive, others have been relaxed.
Aircraft equipped with seat-back entertainment systems may now be used when properly disinfected, and airlines may also issue blankets for a single use between laundering and disinfection. Airport VIP lounges may reopen, and the temperature of each entrant into airports no longer needs to be measured.
On the other hand, for flights of more than 2 hours when food and beverages are served, they may only be consumed at specific times, staggered per row in the aircraft. This is to prevent everyone on the plane removing their masks at the same time.
All passengers must wear masks at all times (except when eating or drinking during designated intervals), and passengers over 60 years old must wear N95 type masks. “This given the appearance of the new variants and the contact with people of different origins in closed spaces, which despite the ventilation of the airplanes, forces us to take extreme measures,” said Fernández.
MinSalud says that stricter testing measures are due in part to the appearances of new SARS-Cov-2 genetic mutations, including South African, British, and Brazilian variants. The testing regime for domestic travel in addition to international flights will allow epidemiologists to track contagion.
“With the appearance of three strains of public health interest and others under observation, a challenge is generated regarding the need to strengthen genomic surveillance. Therefore, the Ministry updates its recommendations based on the best available scientific evidence,” explained Fernández.
Photo of El Dorado International Airport disinfection courtesy MinSalud