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Costa Rica in sanitary alert due to respiratory illnesses

Since June 5, Costa Rica has been under a sanitary alert due to higher-than-expected cases of respiratory illnesses.

The Health Ministry issued the following bulletin on its website:

Historically the time of greatest circulation of these viruses has been in the second half of the year, but in this 2019 we have seen an increase in the last weeks of May and the first week of June.

It is necessary for the population to take preventive measures against these diseases:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Clean surfaces.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • If you are sick, stay at home and do not visit other people.
  • Avoid sites of public congregation.
  • Mothers should continue to breastfeed. 
  • Avoid smoking in front of children.
  • Get vaccinated against influenza.

At least two children have died of influenza in recent weeks, and the Health Ministry has launched a vaccination campaign against the type A and type B flu viruses. They hope to vaccinate 1.3 million people, targeting young children, adults and others at a higher risk of complications.

“We recommend all people who fall into these groups to visit Caja de Seguro to get vaccinated,” the Health Ministry said.

Despite its recommendation to avoid large gatherings of people, the Health Ministry says it has not considered suspending the annual romería, the annual pilgrimage to the Virgen de los Ángeles in Cartago. The romería was cancelled in 2009 due to the AH1N1 flu virus.

“At no time as a Ministry have we affirmed that there are possibilities of suspending the romería, or any other massive event,” the Health Ministry said. “We constantly monitor the increase in the circulation of respiratory viruses, peaks that are experienced every year.”

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