Costa Rican health authorities reported on Thursday afternoon the first suspected case of the novel coronavirus within the country’s borders.
A test that will confirm whether the patient is infected with the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, is currently in process, said Health Minister Daniel Salas. The national reference lab, which is conducting the test, is expected to produce results within 24 hours.
“As soon as we have the report, we will communicate with the public,” Salas said.
In a video statement, Salas said the patient in question is a 52-year-old woman who recently returned to Costa Rica from Italy and Tunisia.
The woman, who lives in Pococí, Limón, did not have symptoms when she arrived in Costa Rica on Feb. 29. She remains in quarantine with family members, who currently are not presenting symptoms of COVID-19.
Salas said the Health Ministry is also following-up with other people with whom the woman may have come in contact.
“We call on the population to remain calm, at this moment it is classified as a suspected case and I want to emphasize that it is only suspected, so, for the moment, we cannot affirm that we have confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Costa Rica, much less that there is active transmission from person to person in our country,” Salas said.
Salas also issued a reminder that the public should prioritize washing their hands frequently, avoiding handshakes or kisses as part of greetings, and following protocols for coughing and sneezing.
Stay at home if you feel ill, and contact health authorities if you present respiratory symptoms after visiting a country with active COVID-19 transmission, Salas said.
Across the world, 3,345 people have died from the virus. There have been 97,510 infections in 85 countries and territories, according to AFP’s latest toll based on official sources at 1700 GMT Thursday.
The main countries affected: mainland China (80,409 cases, 3,012 deaths), South Korea (6,088 cases, 35 deaths), Italy (3,858 cases, 148 deaths), Iran, (3,513 cases, 107 deaths). Britain and Switzerland recently recorded their first deaths.
This is a developing story and will be updated. Information from AFP was used in this report.