Costa Rica’s Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, reported this Thursday afternoon the number of covid-19 confirmed cases increased to 89, 20 more than 24 hours earlier, now in 6 of the 7 provinces. Puntarenas the only province not reported a case.
New measures announced this Thursday to prevent the spread of the virus include the closing of all theaters and cinemas on the weekend, while shopping malls limited to 50% capacity.
Salas explained 81 of the infected are Costa Ricans and 8 are foreigners; of which 5 are hospitalized, two are in intensive care.
The age range of the infected is from 2 to 87 years of age. The two-year-old is at home and showing no complications.
The Health Minister reiterated his call for people to stay home, a lower tone than the scolding tone of Wednesday.
“What we do in the coming days is decisive. We hope not to get to that stage where we have to decide who we have to put a respirator on. This virus is easily transmitted, do not go to public places and if you go do not touch your face, wash your hands, do not shake hands and kiss, they are measures that will save lives (…) ,” Salas warned once again t.
He explained that the greatest danger would be reaching a time when even the intensive care unit staff is insufficient to care for the sick.
When asked about the consideration of applying a curfew measure, Salas clarified that this would be considered only as an “extremely extreme” measure and we are not there yet.
On this issue of a curfew, Security Minister, Michael Soto, said that if such measures were to be applied, there would be exceptions such as security personnel and even journalists.
“The curfew is a scenario that we are not considering, we have reviewed what implications it would have, people who circulate would have to stop (arrest) them and we have nowhere to put them, we cannot put them together,” he said.
First vice president Epsy Campbell spoke about the closing of the borders, in particular the northern border with Nicaragua, and the upcoming high travel period between the two countries, when Nicaraguans head home for Semana Santa (Easter Holidays), the second busiest travel period of the year.
“We are recommending to Nicaraguans not to travel to their country … we have control of what happens in the country but not outside our borders,” said Campbell.
Campbell assured that a strategy in place to protect the blind spots and reinforce security at the border, where up to 3,000 people cross illegally every day.
As of midnight Wednesday, the borders – land, sea and air – are closed to all foreigners, only Costa Rican nationals and legal residents can enter the country, that must submit to a 14-day mandatory quarantine.
In the first hours alone, 327 health orders were issued at all border posts for 310 Costa Ricans and 17 residents. They came on seven flights and two cruise ships.
In case of non-compliance, they are exposed to fines or other penalties.
“There are Costa Ricans who do take the resolution seriously and others just file it away. It is a mandatory health order, it is important that you read it. The person must stay at home 14 days, it is mandatory for everyone’s health, it is important to follow the guidelines, I call on everyone. The Immigration Police works 24/7 to make this happen,” said Raquel Vargas, director of immigration, whose officials are responsible to deliver the order and take the information such as address and telephone number.
Michael Soto, Minister of Security, reiterated the obligation of all citizens to remain in their homes.
The Minister did not hide his annoyance because they still have reports of concentrations of people on the beaches and open bars, as was the case of a clandestine bar in Puntarenas.
“A manager of a bar was notified of the health order, the next day we visited and it was open, he was arrested, but now he is free, criminal charges were filed,” he said.