Argentina’s government has placed further restrictions on international air traffic as it attempts to limit the entry and eventual spread of new Covid-19 variants – especially the so-called ‘Delta’ strain first identified in India.
The new measures, confirmed by a resolution published Saturday in the Official Gazette, limit the number of flights to and from Europe and block all travel from a number of destinations, including Turkey and a host of African countries.
Flights to and from Brazil, Chile and India, as well as the United Kingdom and Ireland, are also suspended.
The new rules mean the country’s borders will now be closed to non-resident foreigners until June 25, when an emergency decree imposed by President Alberto Fernández is due to expire. Not all flights, however, have been suspended.
The tightened restrictions seek to "reduce international traffic and prevent new strains of coronavirus from reaching Argentina," reads the text.
Justifying its move, the government said that "in the current epidemiological context, the risk of introducing new, even more transmissible variants could generate a sharp and high increase in cases, which would inevitably lead to higher mortality."
The Transport Ministry has requested “a 20 percent reduction in the frequencies of passenger flights that originate or end in European countries," said the government, adding that the National Civil Aviation Administration (ANAC) "may expand, decrease or eliminate” those levels as it sees fit.
Argentina’s government is concerned about the spread of new virus strains, which are reported to be more contagious.
President Alberto Fernández said last week that measures would be implemented to ensure “that the new strain from India does not enter Argentina and does not ruin the work we have done so far."
The Health Ministry confirmed last week that they had identified at least two individuals who had been infected with the Delta strain. The duo arrived at Ezeiza international airport on a flight from France, though officials said they had been isolated early on and placed under observation.
Argentina has reported more than four million infections from Covid-19 and around 84,000 fatalities. Around a quarter of the population has been vaccinated to date.