More Guatemalans Deported From US Test Positive for Virus

May 18, 2020
6:17 PM

A woman pushes a cart with plastic bottles to recycle during three-days nationwide lockdown to help contain the spread of the new coronavirus in Guatemala City’s historic district, Sunday, May 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Moisés Castillo)

By SONIA PÉREZ D., Associated Press

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Ten more Guatemalans deported from the United States last week have tested positive for COVID-19 upon their return.

A Guatemalan health official who was not authorized to discuss the information publicly and requested anonymity said Sunday they had been aboard a May 13 flight from Alexandria, Louisiana. Last week, health authorities had said three people from that flight had tested positive for the virus.

The remaining 52 deportees aboard that flight will now be tested, the official said.

It’s the latest example of an ongoing problem that now accounts for at least 115 infected Guatemalans. The government has suspended the deportation flights on several occasions to pressure the U.S. government to certify that the deportees do not carry the virus.

The U.S. government started testing them, but this is at least the second flight where deportees who apparently tested negative before their departure have tested positive upon arrival in Guatemala. In some cases the deportees are tested several days before actually boarding the plane so it’s possible they were infected in the interim. The Guatemalan government has asked the U.S. to test them no more than three days before departure.

The AP had previously reported that on an April 13 flight from Alexandria, at least 44 deportees tested positive. Later, the government raised the number of positive results from that flight to 71.

Guatemala has reported nearly 2,000 confirmed infections and 35 deaths. President Alejandro Giammattei put the country on a round-the-clock lockdown over the weekend after a loosening of restrictions was followed by a surge in infections. On Monday a 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew begins for the week.