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Costa Rican health authorities plan precautions in response to Chinese coronavirus

January 24, 2020

Update (Jan. 22): According to the Foreign Ministry, for the moment, there are no reports of Costa Ricans affected by the coronavirus in China.

Four Costa Ricans live in Wuhan, the city in which the virus originated, the Foreign Ministry said.

Our original story follows:

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Put down that cerveza, because this Corona is a little more serious.

Costa Rican health authorities joined an international chorus of concern regarding a SARS-like virus with Chinese origins that has spread beyond that nation’s borders and is contagious between humans.

The new coronavirus strain, first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has caused alarm because of its connection to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

The total number of people diagnosed with the new virus has risen to 218.

There have been no reported cases of the coronavirus strain in Costa Rica, nor has the virus infected any Costa Rican citizens. However, the Ministry of Health on Monday released a “protocol of action for health care centers” in case someone presents with symptoms.

In case of an outbreak in Costa Rica, the Ministry of Health says the infected person(s) will be quarantined. All people with whom they came in contact over the previous days will also be examined.

In Thailand and the United States, passengers arriving from China are being screened at some airports, but Costa Rica has no direct flights from the Asian country.

“The Ministry of Health remains attentive to the advances in the investigation of the disease to guide decision-making in order to protect the public health of the country,” said the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas.

Symptoms of the coronavirus strain include cough, shortness of breath and fever. In more serious cases, it can cause pneumonia, acute respiratory syndrome and kidney failure. At least three people in China are suspected to have died after contracting the virus.

According to the general recommendations of the World Health Organization, take the following measures to prevent respiratory illnesses from spreading:

  • Frequent hand washing.
  • Cook food properly. 
  • Avoid close contact with people with symptoms of respiratory diseases.
  • Practice proper cough and sneeze protocol.
  • In case of symptoms of respiratory disease during or after a trip to China, seek medical attention and share your travel history with the health provider.

For those who will soon travel to China and especially Hubei province, avoid approaching people with respiratory symptoms, crowded spaces and farm animals. Additionally, while the coronavirus is being investigated, it is recommended to consume only well-cooked food. 

The World Health Organization panel will meet in Geneva on Wednesday to determine whether to declare the outbreak “a public health emergency of international concern” — a rare designation only used for the gravest epidemics.

Information from AFP was used in this report.

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