A total of 99 students have tested positive for COVID-19 since returning to Argentina following a high school graduation trip to Cancún amid reports that some negative test results were faked to allow them to fly.
Argentine newspaper Clarín reported that students from 35 schools in the country had signed up for the vacations that were arranged since February 17 by Moon Travel, a local travel agency.
On Sunday, a plane with 88 passengers touched down at Ezeiza International Airport, where immigration authorities detected 55 infected students.
The mother of one student told A24 television network that Moon Travel charged each student $100 to provide PCR tests 72 hours prior to the departures.
‘The travel agency arranged for a laboratory in Cancún to certify the PCR 72 hours before the trip, and the only thing we knew was that it had a cost of $100,’ the woman said.
‘The kids in Mexico all tested negative, but when they arrived in the country their swabs gave other results.’
The Argentine Health Ministry reported that 44 of the 149 students from two schools who returned on the flight from Cancún tested positive during a screening process at Ezeiza International Airport on Saturday.
Argentine news network TN reported that 49 students who were scheduled to board the flight remained in Mexico after testing positive for the coronavirus.
Argentina’s immigration authorities detected 99 high school students with the coronavirus after they arrived from Cancún, Mexico, on two flights over the weekend at Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires. A total of 55 students out of 89 who were on a flight Sunday were infected with the virus and an additional 44 on a flight with 149 students also tested positive for the ravaging virus. The students reportedly tested negative upon boarding their flights, but swabs done at the airport proved otherwise
Among the infected high school students who stepped off the airplane in Argentina was Nicanor Santilli (pictured), the son of Buenos Aires Deputy Chief of Government, Diego Santilli. Nicanor Santilli’s mother, Nancy Pazos, tweeted that the teen had also been infected with the virus in August
Health officials in Cancún, Mexico, are investigating reports that a laboratory was contracted by Argentine travel agency Moon Travel to test the high school students for the coronavirus. At least 99 students who arrived in Argentina over the weekend after traveling to the resort town somehow tested positive for the virus after boarding two flights with negative test results
Among the infected high school students who stepped off the airplane in Argentina was Nicanor Santilli, the son of Buenos Aires Deputy Chief of Government, Diego Santilli.
Nicanor Santilli’s mother, Nancy Pazos, tweeted that the teen had also been infected with the virus in August.
The incident caused even greater concern when one of the students, Agustín Riquelme, was seen on camera sitting in a luxury suite with his father, soccer legend Juan Román Riquelme, enjoying Sunday’s Argentine league clash between Boca Juniors and River Plate at La Bombonera.
An image published by TN from Agustín Riquelme’s Instagram account shows him and three other students sitting on a boat without their face masks.
Agustín Riquelme, (left) the son of soccer legend Juan Román Riquelme (right), was among the 149 students who were on a flight with 44 classmates who tested positive for the coronavirus upon stepping out of an airplane in Argentina following a high school graduation trip to Cancún. Instead of following the country’s quarantine guideline, Agustín Riquelme was seen on television enjoying Sunday’s Argentine league clash between Boca Juniors and River Plate at La Bombonera
Among the 44 infected high school students who stepped off the airplane in Argentina was Nicanor Santilli (pictured to the right on the left image), the son of Buenos Aires Deputy Chief of Government, Diego Santilli (pictured right). Nicanor Santilli’s mother, Nancy Pazos (pictured left on the left image), tweeted that the teen had also been infected with the virus in August
According to government guidelines, passengers returning to Argentina must present a negative PCR test 72 hours before boarding their flight and then have to quarantine for 10 days.
Some of the Argentine travelers reported incidents in which the health workers allegedly forged the documents to reflect a negative result and allow them to board their flights back home despite the possibility of exposing others to contracting the virus. Mexican officials have opened an investigation into the allegations.
Infectious disease specialist Eduardo López, who has advised the government during the pandemic, said the rumors, if true, are troubling.
‘It is worrying because you don’t know that kind of care there is abroad,’ López said. ‘It is known that Mexico has a high amount of daily infections and there is no high containment measure. We must try to avoid this kind of travel.’
Health workers are unsure if any of the students who tested positive are infected with new strains of the virus.
Data from John Hopkins University shows that as of Tuesday, Argentina has reported 53,836 confirmed coronavirus deaths and 2,201,886 infections.