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Costa Rica suspends mass gatherings in face of coronavirus

Costa Rican authorities on Monday afternoon announced several significant measures in response to the growing coronavirus epidemic.

President Carlos Alvarado said at a press conference that mass gathering events in Costa Rica are being suspended for at least two weeks and until further notice. These include concerts, topes (horse parades) and regional festivals.

Costa Rican soccer matches and other sporting events can take place without spectators. Farmer’s markets can similarly continue, but with crowd-abatement restrictions.

Public workers are requested to work from home, if possible, starting Tuesday. Private companies have been asked to provide similar allowances for their employees.

Religious gatherings are not being suspended at this time, the Costa Rican government said. The Education Ministry said it will work alongside the Health Ministry to close specific schools as the need arises.

Health Minister Daniel Salas said Costa Rica will focus more heavily on mitigation of COVID-19 within the country’s borders rather than enforcing more stringent international travel restrictions.

The measures taken are meant to minimize mass transmission of COVID-19 without paralyzing the country, Salas said.

Costa Rican institutions announce coronavirus measures

Alexander Solis, President of the National Emergency Commission, said the general public should continue focusing on COVID-19 prevention by washing their hands frequently and staying home if sick.

All elderly people and those with pertinent pre-existing conditions should avoid crowds, authorities said.

Victoria Hernández, Minister of Economy, Industry and Commerce, said the agency is verifying fair prices and access to sanitary items throughout Costa Rica.

The Costa Rican Water and Sewer Institute (AyA) said that while it will continue rationing water in 14 cantons — affecting more than 357,000 people — it has received funding for emergency projects to alleviate shortages.

One school, Escuela Reverendo Francisco Schmitz in Desamparados, San José, will remain closed for 10 days after a worker tested positive for COVID-19.

The announcements come as Costa Rica faces at least nine confirmed cases of coronavirus. Thirty-four people are suspected of having coronavirus, according to the Health Ministry’s latest figures, released Sunday night.

“This dynamic of more suspected cases will continue,” Salas said. “This is practically a pandemic effect.”

This story is developing. 

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