Colombia expels four foreigners for breaching isolation regulations for coronavirus

BOGOTÁ, Mar 14 (Reuters) – Colombia announced on Saturday that it will expel two French and two Spaniards who recently entered the country and failed to comply with preventive isolation rules for 14 days to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Colombian health authorities have so far reported 22 people infected with COVID-19, a disease that is spreading around the world and has been classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

The South American country ordered this week that all citizens entering China, Italy, France and Spain must undergo a two-week preventive isolation in their places of residence or in hotels.

The Colombian immigration authority said that, in the first case, a Spanish couple who entered the country on Thursday from Madrid decided to leave a hotel to tour Bogotá, in breach of the isolation order.

The second case involved a French couple who left the Bogotá hotel and were located sightseeing in the municipality of Monguí, in the department of Boyacá, 223 kilometers by road from the Colombian capital.

“The foreigners were taken to the El Dorado international airport in order to immediately leave the national territory,” said a statement by Migración Colombia. Foreigners will not be able to return to the country in the next seven years.

Another Spaniard had been expelled from Colombia on Friday after he was found to have violated preventive isolation.

The Colombian government ordered from Saturday the closure of the border crossings with Venezuela and from Monday banned the entry of foreign citizens from Europe and Asia to contain the expansion of COVID-19.

All Colombians and foreigners residing in the country, including members of diplomatic missions who have been to countries in Europe and Asia recently, should be subject to mandatory preventive isolation for 14 days.

Previously, the President of Colombia, Iván Duque, declared the health alert and prohibited all public events that concentrate more than 500 people.

After that decision, the managers of Colombian soccer decided to temporarily suspend the championship, while in Bogotá concerts such as that of the Spanish Raphael and Alejandro Sanz were postponed.

Cine Colombia, one of the main cinema exhibition companies in the country that receives 2.5 million visitors monthly, closed its 338 theaters in 17 cities over the next 10 days to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading in the a country of 50 million people, company president Munir Falah told Reuters.

COVID-19 has infected about 142,600 people in 135 countries and killed more than 5,300 patients, most in China, Italy and Iran, demonstrating the high risk of the disease spreading, according to the World Organization for health.

(Report by Luis Jaime Acosta)