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Costa Rica detects South African, British coronavirus strains

February 24, 2021

Costa Rican researchers detected the South African variant of the coronavirus in a French tourist who was part of a group of 20 European visitors who tested positive for Covid-19 while traveling through the Central American country, authorities reported Tuesday.

The South African variant, considered more transmissible and resistant to some vaccines, was detected in a 65-year-old French man who presented symptoms of Covid-19 on January 31, the Costa Rican Ministry of Health said in a statement.

The Frenchman arrived in Costa Rica on January 16 with a group of his compatriots. Twenty tested positive for the coronavirus and six of them required hospitalization.

According to the Health Ministry, 16 members of the tourist group overcame the virus and were able to return to France, while another four remain hospitalized in public hospitals in Costa Rica.

Two Costa Rican nationals tested positive for Covid-19 due to contact with French tourists, and one of them remains hospitalized.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that the South African variant of Covid-19 is not more severe than the original, but some studies suggest that it is more contagious and resistant to some vaccines.

Costa Rica also detected a case of the British variant of Covid-19 in a 35-year-old Costa Rican woman who has already recovered and did not require hospitalization, the Health Ministry said.

“The origin of this infection is being investigated and, preliminarily, has not caused other cases,” authorities reported.

The British variant has also been flagged as more contagious, although there are no indications that it is more severe.

“Given the importance of these findings, Inciensa will continue with the genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in our country, in order to identify new genetic or structural variants of epidemiological importance for the diagnosis, prevention and control of the disease,” the Health Ministry said.

Costa Rica has reported a downward trend in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations over recent weeks, allowing the country to ease restrictions in March.

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