The Costa Rican Health Ministry said Wednesday that the country’s national reference laboratory has the proper equipment necessary to test for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus that has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization.
The real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test kit will allow Costa Rica to confirm or rule out potential coronavirus cases without having to send samples outside the national territory.
In addition, the Health Ministry said it has updated its protocols to test sick travelers who have visited South Korea, Iran and Italy, in addition to China, within 14 days of falling ill.
“Our health system is robust and prepared, but the responsibility for self-care with prevention measures is important, with special attention on people with chronic diseases or other risk factors,” said Mario Ruiz, Medical Manager of the CCSS, in a press conference.
While Costa Rica has not restricted travel due to COVID-19, the Health Ministry is monitoring Costa Rica’s ports of entry and has coordinated responses with international airlines in the event of a sick traveler. Signs at Juan Santamaría International Airport and Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport advise anyone who falls ill after visiting China to immediately contact a health center.
The Foreign Ministry of Costa Rica last week evacuated two Ticos from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The agreed to a two-week quarantine in Ukraine, after which they will return to Costa Rica if they remain asymptomatic.
Earlier Wednesday, a Brazilian resident became the first case of the novel coronavirus recorded in Latin America. Another 20 cases are under investigation, said a health official from the South American country.
Coronavirus has killed over 2,700 people and infected more than 80,000, the vast majority in China.
Information from AFP was used in this report.