President Oscar Arias is the latest in a long list of Costa Ricans to have been afflicted with the H1N1 flu virus.
Following orders from his doctors and protocol set forth by the Health Ministry, Arias will remain at his home in Rohrmoser to avoid transmitting the disease to others.
According to top officials within his cabinet, the president’s symptoms are “mild” and he will continue to perform his presidential duties from his home.
“Apart from ailments like fever and a sore throat, I feel well and fully capable of continuing work by means of telecommute,” Arias said in a statement on Tuesday.
His symptoms were first noticed on Sunday, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that doctors confirmed he carried the H1N1 flu virus.
His brother, Rodrigo Arias, who serves as minister to the president, said Arias will remain at home until Monday not because he is too sick to come to work, but because he doesn’t want to infect others.
“People who have symptoms of flu and have associated factors need to remain in their homes in order to protect their health and also to avoid contact with other people,” said Vice Minister of Health Ana Morice, who recommends home isolation for seven days, which puts people beyond the period of being contagious.
According to Morice, Arias is considered a high-risk patient because he suffers from asthma, a condition which makes sufferers more susceptible to medical complications stemming from the virus.
However, Arias’ brother continued to assure the press he is doing well.
“We have been in communication with him throughout the morning and he said he feels good,” Rodrigo Arias said on Wednesday. “He had a good night and he continues to rest and pursue treatment.”
Hundredes of citizens and residents have sent notes or made phone calls to CasaPresidencial to wish the president a quick recovery. Responding to the flood of e-mails, the Casa Presidencial created an e-mail address ([email protected]) for people wishing to send personal notes.
Arias’ close cabinet members have not been tested for H1N1 and they said they intend to do so only if they exhibit symptoms.
“I feel fine,” said Communications Minister Mayi Antillon at a press conferenceWednesday. “The Health Ministry hasinformed us that if we don’t experience any symptoms, we don’t need to (be tested.)” Arias is taking Tamiflu, an antiviral medication that shortens the duration of the symptoms. Tamiflu is provided free of charge to all infected residents of the country.
Morice refused to speculate about how and when Arias contracted the virus, saying that is not important.
“The possibility of tracking it is slim,” she said.
Since the H1N1 flu was first detected in Costa Rica in late April of this year, 798 people have been confirmed to be carrying the virus and 27 people have died from complications related to the infection.
The flu has hit six of the country’s seven provinces, affecting people of all ages. Pregnant women, smokers, people suffering weight problems and people with weakened immune systems are most vulnerable, according to health officials.