(QCOSTARICA) People living in flood- or landslide-prone communities who are a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 will be placed in special shelters, with the objective to avoid a possible spread of the disease in shelters, where families are moved when their home is not a safe place and the rains increase.
The National Emergency Commission (CNE) detailed Monday that it is working jointly with the Ministry of Health and the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) to detect if there are cases of COVID-19 in any of the 1,462 risk communities that are mapped.
Alexánder Solís, president of the CNE, assured that they will also have strict measures in these temporary accommodations, in order to comply with the measures of physical distance and respect for social bubbles.
He acknowledged that it is difficult, but given the arrival of the rainy season and the possibility that storms and hurricanes indirectly affect the country, they must apply protocols that protect the life of the population in the face of climatic emergencies and the pandemic.
“The shelters that are enabled in an emergency will have substantial changes to identify people with a health (isolation or quarantine) order or vulnerable condition in time, as well as to decrease capacity and have adequate distances, since we have to guarantee separation to avoid additional outbreaks of COVID-19.
“We also know that cleaning will be essential, so we are acquiring stretchers so that people sleep off the floor and with greater health and safety,” said Solís.
On Monday, the CNE updated its alert notifications, creating a new alert, Orange – a mobilization alert, which will allow to preventively evacuate those who live in risk areas.
At the moment, the parameters that the municipal emergency committees will use to declare an orange alert have not been established, which will allow families to be mobilized before they are trapped by a flood or landslide.
Solís mentioned that in the next two weeks it will be debated in which cases this alert will be made and when the protocol is available, it will be forwarded to the CNE board of directors for approval.
This measure will be included in the new regulation of the emergency committees, he added.
The alert levels are:
- Green – informative, which the entire country is currently under
- Yellow – preparation of shelters, as well as the revision of emergency plans and risk areas
- Orange – mobilization
- Red – response
The CNE president acknowledged that facing the rainy season with a pandemic in between entails greater complexity, taking into account that more precipitation and weather incidents are expected this year than in 2018 and 2019.
The CNE expects an above normal rainy season.
“We are in a complex stage, in which we are going to face a rainy season above normal in the midst of a pandemic,” stressed Solís.
This Monday the hurricane season officially began; however, tropical storms Arthur and Bertha have already formed.
The Instituto Meteorológico Nacional (IMN) – national weather service – expects between 7 and 8 tropical storms, four to five category 1 or 2 hurricanes and four to five category 3, 4 or 5 hurricanes.
Werner Stolz, director of the IMN, recognized that the rainy season will be quite strong for the Pacific and Central Valley slopes, while the north and the Caribbean will behave normally.
The rains of this Monday afternoon caused 44 incidents in 10 cantons of the central Pacific and the west of the Central Valley.
Sewer saturation, as well as overflowing rivers and streams, generated flooding in areas of Quepos, Parrita, San Ramon, and several areas of the San Jose metropolitan area.
Currently, the entire territory is on green alert due to the possibility that this week two low-pressure systems will affect the climatic conditions in the country.