Costa Rican health authorities now say that at least 231 tourists have tested positive for the coronavirus since the country reopened its air borders in August.
“For context, since the [full] reopening of air borders on Nov. 1, 2020 … we have registered nearly 170,000 foreign arrivals. Of these, 231 have resulted positive for Covid-19. This represents 0.13% of the people who have entered,” said Sandra Delgado, interim director of health vigilance for the Health Ministry.
The figures include 20 French tourists who tested positive in late January. Seven of them remain hospitalized in Costa Rica, Delgado said. The Health Ministry declined to provide more information about their age or condition, citing privacy concerns.
During the coronavirus pandemic, all visitors to Costa Rica are required to have medical insurance that covers Covid-19 expenses, including quarantine. However, since late October, the country no longer requires a negative coronavirus test for entry.
The Tourism Board (ICT) has said that it believes the current entry requirements are appropriate. The organization has also argued that visiting Costa Rica can be low-risk activity.
“Since August 1, when Costa Rica reopened its international borders, none of the travelers we receive has ended up hospitalized in Costa Rica for Covid-19,” Gustavo Segura, Tourism Minister, said January 19. “This confirms our hypothesis when we made these decisions, which is that international tourism at this time is a mechanism of low epidemiological risk for economic recovery.”
The positive results associated with tourists could correspond to testing requirements imposed recently by the United States and other countries. The French tourists, for example, reportedly only took Covid tests as they were preparing for their flights back to Europe.
Other than Delgado’s comments, the Health Ministry typically does not detail the immigration status of people who test positive for Covid-19 in Costa Rica. The public data, shown in the below chart, characterizes cases by age, sex and nationality (foreigner vs. Costa Rican).