One year ago today, we published our first story about the novel coronavirus that was spreading in Wuhan, China.
Our headline from February 20, 2020: “With Ukraine’s support, Costa Rica evacuates citizens from Wuhan, China.”
In February and into March, Costa Rican health authorities prepared protocols for an eventual local case. That finally occurred on March 6, 2020, when Costa Rica confirmed its first case, which had been imported by U.S. citizens.
Authorities later identified a Costa Rican doctor — who had returned from Panama in late February — who was a vector for the country’s first major outbreak.
“This will continue spreading throughout the country,” Health Minister Daniel Salas said at the time. “What we have to ensure is that it doesn’t transmit in a massive form in the upcoming weeks.”
Like the rest of the world, Costa Rica experiences ongoing impacts of the coronavirus, even as a national vaccination campaign is underway. To date, Covid-19 has been attributed to 2,700 deaths in Costa Rica, and global efforts to slow the virus have tanked tourism and exacerbated unemployment.
Read our story from February 2020 below:
The Foreign Ministry of Costa Rica on Wednesday initiated the evacuation of two Ticos who were residing in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the COVID-19 coronavirus that has been labeled as a global health emergency by the World Health Organization.
The pair of Costa Ricans were transported from China to Ukraine, where they will complete a mandatory quarantine. If they remain symptom-free, they will then be repatriated to Costa Rica.
“It has been a complex and challenging process in which we have put our greatest efforts to have a quick return of the two people to national territory and to give their families peace of mind,” said Rodolfo Solano Quirós, Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister.
The two individuals, whose identities were not revealed, flew to Ukraine on Wednesday.
A Foreign Ministry photo shows they were transported on a Boeing 737-700 aircraft owned by Ukrainian low-cost airline SkyUp. The flight departed Wuhan and refueled in Kazakhstan before arriving in the Eastern European country.
“The Government of Costa Rica thanks the Government of Ukraine for the solidarity expressed to the Costa Rican people through the evacuation and humanitarian assistance required for these two Costa Rican people,” a Foreign Ministry statement reads.
No Costa Rican citizens — in China or elsewhere — have contracted COVID-19, authorities say. Nearly 400 Ticos reside in China.
Since December, the novel coronavirus has killed 2,118 people in China — the epicenter of the epidemic — excluding Hong Kong and Macau.
Elsewhere in the world, the virus has killed 11 people and spread across some 25 countries.