Argentine Truckers Stranded at Chilean Border by Slow COVID Testing, Canada Vax Protests, World Covid Stats

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Parked trucks are pictured during a protest against new Chilean entry protocols to the country, that demand all drivers test negative for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Argentine border with Chile, in Uspallata, Mendoza, Argentina January 28, 2022. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Maximiliano Rios

Parked trucks are pictured during a protest against new Chilean entry protocols to the country, that demand all drivers test negative for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Argentine border with Chile, in Uspallata, Mendoza, Argentina January 28, 2022. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Maximiliano Rios

Jan 29 (Reuters) – Thousands of truck drivers from Argentina were stuck at the Chilean border on Saturday due to slow COVID-19 testing, as Chile faced its second transport delay crisis.

Since Jan. 21, more than 3,000 trucks have been stranded at the customs checkpoint of Cristo Redentor in Mendoza, according to the Argentinean Federation of Business Entities for Cargo Transport (FADEEAC).

The long wait has put both drivers and some of the trucks to the test, as trucks with refrigerator units must stay running at all times to keep the cargos at cold temperatures.

“This is becoming a real problem,” said Brazilian truck driver Junior Cesar, whose truck is parked in Uspallata, Argentina, near the Chilean border. “The engines are running day and night and they’re starting to fail and affect the cargo.”

Frustrated drivers waited by their trucks, cooking and sharing whatever food they could buy. They showered using buckets of water or a bathroom nearby that charges 300 Argentine pesos ($3) per use.

“I’ve been here for two weeks,” said Ruben Soza, a truck driver from Mendoza. “I have a refrigeration unit as you can see, with garlic, and the gasoline is not enough to run the refrigeration unit.”

A similar problem has occurred at Chile’s northern border in the Tambo Quemado mountain pass, where drivers from Bolivia too face long waits in line for COVID-19 testing.

The FADEEAC has asked Argentina’s foreign ministry to intervene and try to prevent further delays and minimize the economic losses, which according to FADEEAC estimates add up to $700 a day.

On Friday, Chile’s health ministry reported 26,727 new COVID-19 cases. Argentina reported 63,884.

Reporting by Juan Bustamante; writing by Diane Craft; editing by Grant McCool
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Canada rally against vaccine mandates blocks Ottawa as Trump praises protest

OTTAWA, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Dozens of trucks and other vehicles blocked the downtown area of Ottawa for a second day after thousands descended on Canada’s capital city on Saturday to protest against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Trucks remained parked on the streets near parliament on Sunday, a day before lawmakers are due to resume work after the holiday break. Hundreds of protesters were out on Sunday, too. Some truckers said they will not leave until the mandate is overturned.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump, speaking at a rally in Texas on Saturday, praised the Canadian protesters for “resisting bravely these lawless mandates”, in a sign the politicization of the pandemic seen mostly south of the border has spread north.

In solidarity with the Ottawa rally, truckers and protesters have blocked a Canada-U.S. border crossing in southern Alberta, police said on Twitter.

In Ottawa, thousands gathered peacefully on Saturday and there were no arrests, though several incidents are now being investigated by police.

“Several criminal investigations are underway,” Ottawa police said on Twitter, including for the “desecration of the National War Memorial” and “threatening/illegal/intimidating behaviour to police/city workers and other individuals”.

One protester was filmed dancing on the war memorial – the tomb of the unknown soldier – and flags bearing swastikas were seen in the crowd. A downtown mall shut down because protesters refused to wear masks.

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WORLD COVID STATS

375,569,894

Deaths:

5,682,934

Recovered:

296,720,469
Highlighted in green
= all cases have recovered from the infection
Highlighted in grey
= all cases have had an outcome (there are no active cases)

 

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