El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele on Monday accused Mexico of allowing a dozen confirmed coronavirus cases to board a flight due to leave Mexico City for San Salvador, and said he had suspended all passenger air travel with immediate effect.
Bukele, who made the assertion on Twitter, did not provide evidence or more detail about the situation.
El vuelo de Avianca procedente de México hacia San Salvador, que sale a las 4:00pm y que arribaría a nuestro país a las 6:50pm, trae 12 casos confirmados de #COVID19
El avión no podrá ingresar al país.
Le pido a toda la gente que piensa abordar ese vuelo, QUE NO LO HAGA.
— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) March 16, 2020
Without explaining how he knew, Bukele tweeted that “the El Salvador airport runway is closed to non-cargo aircraft until further notice. The planes on the way will have to change flights”.
Regarding the flight from Mexico, Bukele said in the Tweet that it was an Avianca flight, leaving Mexico at 4:00 pm and that it would arrive in El Salvador at 6:50 pm”.
According to him, it would bring 12 cases of the COVID19 and “The plane will not be able to enter the country. I ask all the people who think to board that flight, NOT TO DO IT”.
Minutes later, Bukele retweeted this message from Avianca Central America.
“Flight AV431 operating the Mexico – El Salvador route has been canceled. It has NOT been boarded and passengers are being duly informed.”
— Avianca Centroamérica (@AviancaCAM) March 17, 2020
Mexico’s Undersecretary of Foreign Relations, Maximiliano Reyes, wrote in response to Bukele:
“Mr. President, with all due respect, we would like to know what are the sources of your information? The Government of Mexico has always acted with absolute responsibility in this situation, including preventively, being pioneers in the region.”
Señor Presidente, con todo respeto, nos gustaría saber ¿cuáles son las fuentes de su información? El Gobierno de México siempre ha actuado con absoluta responsabilidad en esta situación, incluso de manera preventiva, siendo pioneros en la región.
— Maximiliano Reyes Zúñiga (@maximilianoreyz) March 16, 2020
For his part, Mexico’s Foreign Relations Minister Ebrard C. also tweeted Bukele:
“President Bukele: the Avianca flight you mentioned was canceled because all the flights to San Salvador were suspended. Could you share with us what are the 12 cases of coronavirus you mention and where they were confirmed? Is it responsible in this and in any other case?”
Presidente Bukele: el vuelo AVIANCA que menciona se canceló porque se suspendieron todos los vuelos a San Salvador. Podría ud. compartirnos cuales son los 12 casos de coronavirus que menciona y donde se confirmaron? Es lo responsable en este y en cualquier otro caso.
— Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) March 16, 2020
Two hours later, the Minister tweeted Bukele with:
“Mr. President, we checked the passengers of the AVIANCA flight and I can confirm that they are healthy. The health authority found no coronavirius, including the 12 Salvadoran youths who were wearing face masks. I know you will be happy. Kind regards.”
Sr Presidente verificamos a los pasajeros del vuelo AVIANCA y puedo confirmarle que están sanos. La autoridad sanitaria no encontró coronavirius,incluyendo los12 jóvenes salvadoreños que portaban cubrebocas. Sé le dará mucho gusto.Saludos cordiales. pic.twitter.com/JmRtbMyQME
— Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) March 17, 2020