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Costa Rica changes Covid-19 testing, vaccinations and measures

May 18, 2021

The Costa Rican government on Tuesday introduced a series of changes to Covid-19 testing, the vaccination strategy and containment measures in context of record hospitalizations and deaths.

Below is what Costa Rica announced:

Detection and isolation of cases and contacts

  • The Costa Rica Social Security System (CCSS, or Caja) will double the number of daily PCR tests, reaching 9,000 tests, allowing more cases to be identified and isolated.
  • The Ministry of Health will allow employers to conduct Covid-19 antigen testing on their workers. In addition, any asymptomatic individual can now obtain an antigen test at private laboratories.
  • The National Emergency Commission (CNE) opened three centers for the care of Covid-19 patients who don’t require hospitalization but do not have a suitable place to quarantine.
  • The CNE searches for an ideal place to transfer about 60 elderly people and people with disabilities in a condition of abandonment who remain in public hospitals. This will vacate beds in hospitals for the care of people with Covid-19.

Accelerating the vaccination campaign

  • The National Commission for Vaccination and Epidemiology agreed to proceed with the vaccination of Group 4, which includes teachers, waste collectors, prisoners, and other essential workers.
  • Negotiations have been made with the Chinese government to acquire the Sinopharm vaccine, which has received emergency approval by the World Health Organization. Similarly, Costa Rica is in talks with the United States to access new lots of vaccines.

Measures to reduce infections

In order to reduce mobility and thus the circulation of the virus, the sanitary vehicle restriction will expand as of Wednesday, May 19 and until May 30.

Vehicular traffic will be allowed according to the final number of the license plate. Even numbers can drive on green days; odd numbers on purple days:
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The exceptions to the vehicle restriction can be found at: presidencia.go.cr/alertas

Commercial business establishments may continue to operate between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. Public transport, beach and national park access, and other measures remain unchanged.

Increased hospital capacity

  • The CCSS will free up more than 400 beds by transferring non-Covid patients of low complexity to shelters, clinics, health areas and public and private hospitals, as well as by keeping all victims of traffic accidents in the Trauma Hospital (INS).
  • Costa Rica will expand staffing at a call center that provides support to patients with a positive COVID result and who are in home isolation. This service helps to determine which individuals may need additional medical care.
  • 17 health areas will extend their hours, including some up to 24 hours.

International support

Wednesday, humanitarian aid from Saudi Arabia will arrive in Costa Rica, including 23 ventilators. Costa Rica is also in talks with governments such as the United States, the People’s Republic of China and Singapore to seek more international support.

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