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Uruguay: Ministry of Public Health Requires All Entering Country to Present Negative COVID-19 Test

(July 15, 2020) On July 6, 2020, Uruguay’s Ministry of Public Health (MPH) issued Ordinance 649/2020, requiring Uruguayan nationals and foreigners entering the country—whether by air, land, or sea—to prove they have tested negative for COVID-19 within the previous 72 hours.

The ordinance also mandates that those who enter

  • present an affidavit stating they have no COVID-19 symptoms;
  • present an affidavit stating that they have not been in contact with persons infected with COVID-19;
  • have health insurance to cover health care in the country if needed;
  • have their body temperature taken at the point of entry and have a temperature that is lower than 99.4 degrees Fahrenheit; and
  • wear face masks and keep 6 feet apart from other people at all times.

In addition, all entering the country must complete a quarantine period of 14 days after entering. Travelers staying more than one week must be retested for COVID-19 after the seventh day.

People excepted from these requirements are as follows:

  • Drivers of international transportation vehicles transporting humanitarian or health-related goods
  • Foreigners who are being evacuated upon the authorization of health authorities
  • Brazilians who cross the Uruguayan-Brazilian border and remain at the border location
  • Individuals entering temporarily for economic, judicial, business, or work reasons, with the authorization of the immigration authorities
  • Individuals entering to seek refugee status or for humanitarian reasons
  • Diplomats

According to the government, these measures are needed to prevent foreigners from bringing contagious diseases into the country, especially through the border with Brazil, which has a high number of COVID-19 cases. As a result of the measures it has taken, Uruguay has been successful in containing the virus, with only 31 deaths in the country as of July 13, 2020.

Epidemiologists suggest that controlling entry into the country, not forbidding it, is the right approach for Uruguay to maintain a successful campaign against the virus.