Costa Rican health authorities reported on Thursday the first two suspected cases of the novel coronavirus within the country’s borders.
A 52-year-old woman and her niece, 47, are both presenting symptoms of COVID-19 after returning to Costa Rica from Italy and Tunisia.
Italy is among the countries most affected by the new coronavirus. COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has killed at least 148 people in the European nation.
Costa Rica’s national reference lab is conducting tests to confirm whether the two women indeed have coronavirus. Results are expected later Friday.
“As soon as we have the report, we will communicate with the public,” Salas said.
The 52-year-old woman lives in Pococí, Limón, while her niece lives in Heredia. Both remain isolated at home with family members, the Health Ministry said.
The women arrived at Juan Santamaría International Airport on Feb. 29 and were not presenting symptoms at the time. On their flight were 157 passengers, plus the crew, who are being located in order to assess whether they have developed symptoms. Some of those people were transiting through Costa Rica or have already left the country, the Health Ministry said.
“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.