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News briefs: Fire set outside coronavirus shelter for indigenous people

July 15, 2020

The coronavirus crisis has transformed life in Costa Rica, which has enacted measures to protect the capacity of its health system.

Here’s what you should know as a new day starts in Costa Rica:

Fire set outside shelter for indigenous people overnight

The National Emergency Commission (CNE) reported that a group of people had “set fire to mattresses and other objects” Wednesday morning at the entrance of a building in Turrialba that is being used as a shelter for indigenous people who may have COVID-19.

The shelter was housing at least three indigenous people, including the mother of a two-year-old who has tested positive for the coronavirus and is hospitalized in San José. They are being relocated to a second care center organized by the Municipality of Turrialba, CNE said.

National Police said the building was not damaged and that the fire was “controlled rapidly.”

CNE president Alexander Solís said the acts  demonstrate “a lack of solidarity and humanity, since the objective of having these centers is to guarantee rapid isolation to control the spread of the virus.”

“The people who must go to the COVID-19 attention centers are those who cannot fulfill their quarantine at home for physical-sanitary and security reasons,” the CNE statement read.

While details are still quite preliminary, Costa Rica has long struggled to protect indigenous land.

Those tensions escalated with the March 2019 murder of Sergio Rojas, after which the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) visited Costa Rica to supervise the country’s protection strategies for indigenous communities.

Health Ministry details 37th coronavirus death

The Health Ministry on Tuesday evening reported Costa Rica’s 37th COVID-19-related death.

The 68-year-old man, a resident of Alajuela province, had been hospitalized at San Juan de Dios Hospital’s intensive care unit since July 3. He had risk factors including hypertension, according to the Health Ministry.

The data indicate Costa Rica has 0.72 COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 people and 21 deaths in July alone.

Half of adult Costa Ricans have at least one risk factor.

Dial 1322 if you may have COVID-19. English-speaking operators are available.

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