Cancun, Quintana Roo, (March 22, 2021).- According to MILENIO, laboratory tests to detect Covid-19 have become a great business for owners and workers of hotels and travel agencies in the tourism industry in Quintana Roo.
Even though the case of 44 Argentine tourists who tested positive when they arrived in their country, after presenting a negative test when leaving the Cancun International Airport, exposed the business of false tests in tourist destinations in the Mexican Caribbean, the demand for this service continues.
And it is that a PCR test that on average is offered for 945 pesos, in most laboratories, for tourists, sells between 100 and 150 dollars, that is, about 2,000 and 3,000 Mexican pesos.
With travel restrictions to countries such as Spain, the United States, Canada, Argentina, and Colombia, the vast majority of hotels and travel agencies already include PCR tests in their vacation packages, which are carried out and delivered by laboratories with which they have established agreements, without offering other options to tourists, in some cases, even if the foreigner does not require the test.
Such is the case of Nelson Torres, a teacher from Costa Rica who planned to travel to Cancun to enjoy the vacation period, however, he decided to cancel the trip due to the high costs of the PCR tests that were required to be able to stay and return to his country, despite the fact that in Mexico they are not asking tourists for this test and neither in their country.
“It turns out that I called two hotels and when I wanted to make my reservation they told me that to enter and leave Mexico I had to do the PCR test at a cost of 150 dollars, and when they started talking about thousands of Mexican pesos more I decided to cancel my trip ”, said Nelson.
The state health services announced that in total there are 150 laboratories in Quintana Roo authorized for the detection and diagnosis of covid-19. On the other hand, according to the Ministry of Tourism, there are currently 113 thousand international tourists in Quintana Roo, 80 percent from the United States.
The figures are cold and revealing, 80 percent of 113,000 is 90,400 North American tourists paying for a PCR test to return to their country, with an average cost of 100 dollars, the profit for travel agencies, hotels and laboratories would amount to 9 million US dollars, that is to say about 186 million Mexican pesos, with the actual exchange rate.
According to MILENIO, even foreign tourists can obtain false negative PCR tests in just a few hours for as little as 800 pesos on average. In the vast majority, the vendors turn out to be the same workers of the travel agencies that facilitate the tests to the tourists; the authorities have placed them as the intermediaries between the laboratories and the visitor.
Faced with such a situation, the governor of Quintana Roo Carlos Joaquín González has asked the Attorney General’s Office, “to initiate an investigation to detect possible sellers of false evidence in the vicinity of the Cancun airport.”
He also asked the National Guard “to monitor the surroundings of the Cancun airport to inhibit this type of illegal practice,” said the president.
After the case of the negative tests delivered to Argentine tourists, the Directorate of Protection Against Sanitary Risks reported that they have provisionally suspended Cancun’s MARBÚ laboratory and it is no longer allowed to operate as clinical laboratories.
For its part, the State Attorney General’s Office initiated an investigation folder for the probable commission of the crime against public health against the same laboratory. They also secured the offices to preserve the evidence, while the investigations continue.
On the website of the MARBÚ laboratory it is indicated that they have worked performing PCR, antigen and serology tests with workers and tourists from various hotels, travel agencies and restaurants such as Royal Resorts, the Urbis travel agency, the Westin Hotel And Resorts, the hotel group The Excellence Collection, the Hotel Belo, the Cancun Bay Resorts, among many others.
This investigation will conclude in the next two days and it will be determined if there was negligence, if so, the laboratory could be closed and liable to a fine.