Four Brazilian Tourists Jailed for Allegedly Faking COVID-19 Tests

Fernando De Noronha (Distrito Estadual), Brazil

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. That was the strategy for one group of Brazilian tourists who traveled to the country’s Atlantic archipelago of Fernando de Noronha. The travelers didn’t meet the COVID-19 entry requirements, so they allegedly changed the date on their documentation — and landed in jail, according to an Associated Press report.

Located about 211 miles off the northeastern coast of Brazil, the isolated island chain reopened to tourists on Oct. 10, as long as visitors test negative for coronavirus with a RT-PCR test within a day of departure, the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo reported. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 28, four tourists from Araguaína in the Brazilian state of Tocantins arrived via a private jet and provided their negative test results from Oct. 25 — three days prior to departure, according to a report on Fernando de Noronha’s site. When asked for samples to retest them, the travelers refused and said they had taken another test on the day of departure and were waiting for the results. 

According to the report, the group presented their new results the next day. But when officials checked with the lab, they found that the date had been altered. The four Brazilians were arrested and jailed, and tested for coronavirus again on Oct. 30.

Since the destination, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to Baia do Sancho, TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice 2020 top beach — reopened to tourists on Oct. 10, it has recorded 16 new coronavirus cases.

Prior to the October opening, Fernando de Noronha had received attention for its unusual containment strategy in which it would only allow visitors who already had COVID-19, Reuters reported. Prior to that, tourism was prohibited in March, even restricting its residents who were on the Brazilian mainland from returning home from April to June.

Globally, Brazil has the third-most cases of COVID-19 — 5,545,705 — after the U.S. and India. The country has the second-most deaths after the U.S., with 160,074 having lost their lives to the virus, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

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