GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — A Guatemalan deported from the United States tested positive for the new coronavirus, the government said Thursday, despite assurances from U.S. authorities that the Guatemalans had been tested and were negative before being flown back to their country.
The man arrived Monday on a flight carrying 75 Guatemalan migrants, all of whom had paperwork stating they had been tested and were not infected.
But an employee of Guatemala’s Health Department speaking on condition of anonymity said the man was one of 10 migrants chosen at random for a test after he returned. He was the only one who came back positive.
There was no immediate explanation for the conflicting results, but it appears some of those tests may have been done a week before they were deported.
Prior testing had been a condition for Guatemala to accept the resumption of deportation flights, after the Guatemalan government reported at least 100 deportees from the United States tested positive for the virus after arriving in Guatemala in recent weeks. Those cases led the government to twice suspend deportation flights from the U.S.
Also Thursday, the government said four unaccompanied Guatemalan minors tested positive for the novel coronavirus after being deported by Mexico this week.
The cases are the first that the government has acknowledged for deportees arriving from Mexico. The three boys and one girl — all teenagers — arrived by bus Monday, said Anaeli Torres, director of Special Protection and Non-Residential Attention for Guatemala’s social welfare agency.
All four arrived with paperwork from Mexico certifying that they were asymptomatic and Torres said they continue to be asymptomatic. But the government is testing all minors when they arrive before sending them back to their families, she said.
“Since the cases were identified, the adolescents have been moved to the appropriate health services,” Torres said. She also called on Guatemalans living near shelters where deported children are housed to not stigmatize them.
Virus fears have led to aggressive rejection of deportees in some communities.
“They have the right to return to their country and a dignified family reunification,” Torres said.