It was last Saturday, February 29. A staffer at the San Juan de Dios Hospital in the heart of San Jose circulated in a social network a test performed on a woman in that medical center, assuring that the result confirmed positive of the first case of the new coronavirus in Costa Rica.
The laboratory test actually indicated that the patient had another type of coronavirus other than Covid-19, but a series of audios shared by hospital employees unleashed an unnecessary wave of panic among the people who received them.
Said false information was immediately denied by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) – Costa Rican Social Security Fund and by the Ministerio de Salud (Ministry of Health).
But the news spread fast. And wild.
The incident caused the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas Peraza, to send an official notice to call the attention of Román Macaya Hayes, executive president of the CSSS, to the leak of “sensitive” and “confidential” information that “never should have happened.”
“The above is considered a very serious offense which must be disciplined in the appropriate ways. For this reason, I ask you to open an investigation on what happened, to verify if the good practices for the information management and doctor-patient confidentiality were fulfilled,” Salas asked Macaya in the official letter MS-DM-2087-2019, of March 2.
In a press conference held at the Casa Presidencial (Government House), on Tuesday morning, the minister confirmed that he requested an investigation of the case, and the CCSS medical manager, Mario Ruiz Cubillo, acknowledged that the information “generated a false expectation about a positive case”.
Ruiz said the investigation was already underway and promised to “get to the bottom of the matter” so that this anomaly is not repeated.
The medical director assured that all CCSS centers have received information and training to prepare for the imminent entry of the new Covid-19 coronavirus.
Salas has been emphatic in that if and when there is a verified case, the entire population will be informed through official channels.
He made a new call for calm, but asked people to prepare to cut the chain of transmission of the virus with basic measures, such as proper handwashing, a good practice sneezing, and coughing, and avoid going to mass events.
He also asked those respiratory symptoms, no matter what their origin, to refrain from going to work or school.
Until now, there are no suspected or confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Costa Rica.
The new coronavirus has infected more than 92,000 globally and led to 3,100 deaths, the vast majority in China, with more than 80,000 cases and almost 3,000 deaths alone. Elsewhere, the main countries affected are South Korea (5,186 cases, 28 deaths), Italy (2,502 cases, 79 deaths) and Iran (2,336 cases, 77 deaths).
In Latin America, the countries with confirmed cases are: Brazil (2) and Mexico (5), the first to report cases, Ecuador (6), Dominican Republic (1), Chile (1) and Argentina (1).
Click here for the latest of countries, territories or areas outside China with reported laboratory-confirmed COVID-19cases and deaths reported by the World Health Organization (WHO).