Four accused of altering virus tests to enter Brazil beach


FILE – This June 5, 2009 file photo shows the Fernando de Noronha island in northeast Brazil. Four tourists were arrested on Oct. 29, 2020 for allegedly falsifying COVID-19 tests in an attempt to reach Fernando de Noronha island, which some say is the world’s most beautiful beach, according to a statement on the archipelago’s official website. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres, File)

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SAO PAULO (AP) — Four tourists were arrested in Brazil for allegedly falsifying COVID-19 tests in an attempt to reach what some say is the world’s most beautiful beach.

The two men and two women were arrested on Thursday after landing in Fernando de Noronha, a group of islands off northern Brazil, according to a statement on the archipelago’s official website. The Brazilians, who took a private jet and arrived Wednesday night, were accused of falsifying documents, using falsified documents and criminal association.

TripAdvisor users rated Fernando de Noronha’s Sancho Bay as the world’s top beach in 2020.

Fernando de Noronha reopened to tourists on Oct. 10, requiring COVID-19 tests that show negative results and administered no earlier than one day before departure. The visitors presented test results that were dated three days prior to their arrival.

Officials said they couldn’t accept their tests and asked for samples to retest them. The defendants refused, and soon presented new results with a different date, according to the statement. Officials became suspicious and called the laboratory, which confirmed the documentation had been altered in an attempt to meet the island’s requirements.

The tourists, who are from Brazil’s Tocantins state, were jailed and were being tested for COVID-19 on Friday.

Even outside of the pandemic, tourism is restricted to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in order to maintain the pristine marine park and ecological sanctuary. Dolphins and turtles gather in the waters around the islands, which makes it a top diving destination.

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