The Ministry of Health (Ministerio de Salud) announced in a press conference Thursday night, a second suspicious case of the coronavirus Covid-19 in Costa Rica.
It is the niece of the 52-year-old woman who Health Minister, Daniel Salas, informed us Thursday morning of being the first suspected case in the country.
The new patient is 47 years old and a resident of Heredia. She made a trip with her aunt to Italy and Tunisia.
Both arrived in Costa Rica on February 29 on a flight from German to the United States, from there on United Airlines to Costa Rica.
Minister Salas Peraza said that the tests of the Costa Rican Institute for Research and Education in Nutrition and Health (Incense) – located in La Unión, Cartago – to determine if both women are carriers of the new respiratory virus, are being processed at this time and resulted are expected by this afternoon (Friday).
Salas emphasized that, until the results are available, “all the necessary measures will be taken to handle patients as if they were confirmed cases”.
In addition, Salas called on the population to be totally serious and supportive of the situation.
“Please do not take hateful or negative actions or attitudes against these women that have not yet been confirmed, but even if they are confirmed, I really call for sanity and that there is no possibility of violent acts against the women”.
The minister stressed that, if the women test positive for the virus does not mean that there is transmission in the community where they reside.
The day the two women arrived at the Juan Santamaría international airport (SJO), in Alajuela, they were approached by Health officials who are in the air terminal as part of the protocol established in advance to deal with possible suspected cases of the coronavirus.
Initially, the women had no symptoms so they were asked for contact information for daily telephone follow-up.
Tuesday night (March 3), the 52-year-old patient from Pococí, Limón, presented a fever, so Wednesday (March 4), in the morning hours, the respiratory (FilmArray) test was performed that allows to rule out other common respiratory viruses.
The test specimen was immediately transferred to the Calderón Guardia Hospital for evaluation. Thursday morning (March 5) the result was negative, thus we proceeded to classify the case as ‘suspicious’ and do further testing.
Similarly, the niece’s FilmArray test resulted in a negative Thursday afternoon.
The flight from the U.S. had 157 passengers on board, plus the crew. These people are being located in order to assess whether they have developed symptoms and do a follow-up; especially, of those that were located near the patients in the aircraft.
“The most important trace coincides with the three rows back and the three rows facing the front where the patients where. It is worth clarifying that some of the people who came on the plane were in transit or have already left the country,” said the Minister of Health.
In addition, we are doing follow-ups on relatives and friends of both women, who remain in strict isolation and monitoring in their homes.
The 47-year-old woman is isolated, along with her mother, in her house, while the 52-year-old patient is at home with her husband.
Salas emphasized that citizens should continue with the corresponding security measures, such as not touching their faces in public places or washing their hands whenever necessary.
With respect to water rationing that is ongoing in various sectors and communities, Minister Salas said that he has been “coordinating with the water utility (Aya) to try to minimize water rationing.”
“We have to understand that we are in the dry season and that rationing is inevitable. Many times rationing (of an area) is communicated beforehand.”
Ready to face the coronavirus
Both the Ministry of Health and the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) – Costa Rican Social Security Fund – have reiterated that the country is ready for the care of patients with Covid-19.
More than 80% of patients develop mild symptoms. The mortality rate and complications associated with the disease are concentrated in less than 2% of those infected.
To date, 99,600 people worldwide have been infected with this virus, and 3,402 have died (as of March 6, 2020, 7:42 am Costa Rica time). Click here for the latest news and world map in real-time of the spread of the virus.
Most of them, in China, where the new coronavirus originated in December last year.
Besides China, the hotspot areas are South Korea, Italy and Iran.