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Health officials in Costa Rica react to first confirmed case of Ebola in the United States

October 2, 2014

Directors of 10 public hospitals in Costa Rica’s Social Security System, or Caja, on Wednesday said they are implementing preventive measures to detect and, if necessary, handle possible cases of the Ebola virus here. The announcement followed confirmation Tuesday of the first case of Ebola in the United States.

Preventive steps are being taken at the following hospitals: Tony Facio in Limón, Enrique Baltodano in Guanacaste, Monseñor Sanabria in Puntarenas, San Rafael in Alajuela, San Vicente de Paul in Heredia, Ciudad Neily in the Southern Zone, and San Juan de Dios, Calderón Guardia, Hospital México and the National Children’s Hospital in the capital.

The hospitals were selected because they are located close to air, sea or land access to the country, Caja officials said.

The agency is increasing staff in hospital laboratories, and will provide training on the protocols for managing suspected cases of Ebola.

Caja Director of Epidemiology Xiomara Badilla said that preventive measures also include the purchase of equipment and protective suits for hospital personnel.

Health Ministry Director of Health Surveillance María Ethel Trejos added that officials are addressing needed improvements at health clinics near the country’s land borders with Nicaragua and Panama.

Local preventive actions began in August following a declaration by the World Health Organization of the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa as an international public emergency. Trejos at the time said one of the first steps involved tasking immigration staff at all airports with identifying and interviewing travelers arriving from countries with active cases of the virus.

U.S. health officials on Tuesday diagnosed the first case of Ebola in that country, a man who was infected in Liberia, in West Africa, and traveled to the U.S. state of Texas.

On Thursday, El Salvador’s health minister announced officials had quarantined two nuns who arrived in the country from the Democratic Republic of Congo, as a precautionary measure. Two Salvadoran soldiers also were quarantined, although no Ebola cases have been confirmed in that Central American country. 

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