Five health unions in Costa Rica on Tuesday issued a joint statement asking authorities to enact immediate restrictions in order to stem the rate of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.
Saying the “darkest hour” of the pandemic has arrived in Costa Rica, a letter penned by the five unions of the Alliance of Health Professionals requested an “urgent” response from the Health Ministry.
“We demand an increase of restrictive measures,” the letter reads. “One possibility is immediate confinement from now until the New Year, to give a break to the exhausted hospital network and its staff.
“In addition, the closing of airports and borders, and an extension of the vehicular restrictions must be ordered.”
Costa Rica has suffered 2,051 coronavirus deaths as of Tuesday. The Health Ministry has reported increasing numbers of hospitalized patients over recent weeks. On Tuesday, 643 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, including 239 in intensive care.
COVID-19 will be Costa Rica’s leading cause of death in 2020, according to Health Minister Daniel Salas.
Despite this, the country has eased the majority of its restrictions in an effort to support a struggling economy. Costa Rica is welcoming tourists, and most businesses can operate with relative normalcy in a strategy the government calls “Costa Rica works and protects itself.”
Unemployment remains high — it reached a record earlier this year — and the country is seeking a $1.75 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to stabilize its finances.
The letter from health unions did not address the economic implications of isolation measures, but it argued that the coronavirus “must be fought now” in order to prevent suffering and the deaths of more people.
“We are facing the most damaging scenario, and the most difficult situation still awaits Costa Rica,” the letter says.
If you believe you have COVID-19, contact Costa Rica’s hotline at 1322. English-speaking staff and mental health professionals are available. Visit the Costa Rican Presidency for the official list of coronavirus measures and alerts.