The Argentine Tierra del Fuego province government rushed some 400 passengers from a cruise vessel, by air, to Buenos Aires before the implementation of a coronavirus fourteen-day quarantine which becomes effective this Monday. The Norwegian flagged vessel Midnatsol arrived on Saturday to Ushuaia from Antarctica.
Although there were no passengers with the virus symptoms, they were all in the limit of the fourteen days of previous sailing which demands the landing protocol. That is why we decided on a special operation and had them flown to Buenos Aires and back to their countries of origin, explained Miguel Angel Ramirez, deputy head of the Tierra del Fuego province ports' department.
The tourists were first taken to a scanning and screening area in the Ushuaia port facilities, including medical checks, and then in buses to the local airport and directly to the waiting aircrafts. Three additional LATAM flights were expected to complete the operation on Sunday evening, according to Ramirez.
The official said that Ushuaia follows the coronavirus protocols established by the Argentine Homeland ministry, reinforced with the urgency decrees from the federal government and Emergency committee of the Health ministry.
The cruise season in Tierra del Fuego ends in April, and local authorities are demanding cruise companies to comply with the 14-day quarantine period before docking and sanitary control on board each vessel.
If the vessel refuses to comply with quarantine or there is a suspicious case on board, the vessel is not allowed to dock. The same applies to all cargo and fishing vessels, but in their case it's easier since they usually arrive after some forty days in high seas.
Tierra del Fuego province has two cases which tested positive to coronavirus, six others under suspicion and some twenty are complying with self imposed home isolation. One of the cases is a woman who on March 6 returned from France, and was later in contact with her teenage son.