The Tico Times | Costa Rica News | Travel | Real Estate https://ticotimes.net Costa Rica’s leading English-language newspaper since 1956, featuring breaking news, regional news, travel, business, sports, entertainment and real estate. Wed, 15 Jul 2020 19:50:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://ticotimes.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/cropped-Logo-32x32.png The Tico Times | Costa Rica News | Travel | Real Estate https://ticotimes.net 32 32 FIFA reveals official 2022 Qatar World Cup schedule https://ticotimes.net/2020/07/15/fifa-reveals-official-2022-qatar-world-cup-schedule Wed, 15 Jul 2020 20:00:41 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=136064 Qatar will kick off the 2022 World Cup at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, organizers announced on Wednesday, as they revealed the schedule for the finals.]]>

Qatar will kick off the 2022 Men’s World Cup at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, organizers announced on Wednesday, as they revealed the schedule for the finals.

In a joint statement, FIFA and Qatar’s Supreme Committee organizational body said that the gas-rich Gulf nation will start the World Cup at the 60,000-capacity ground on November 21.

The final will be held at the 80,000-seat Lusail Stadium in Doha nearly a month later on December 18.

The opening match will begin a group stage that will feature four matches a day for 12 days, spread over eight stadiums around Qatar.

Group matches will kick off at three-hour intervals, beginning at 1:00 p.m. local time (4:00 a.m. in Costa Rica), with the late match kicking off at 10:00 p.m. local time.

The tournament will then jump straight to the last 16, with two matches a day until two rest days and the start of the quarter- and semi-finals, which will both be spread over two days.

Qualification for the World Cup has begun in Asia and Africa but is yet to start in Europe, the Americas and Oceania. Organizers said on Wednesday that the draw for the finals would be made “after the March 2022 international match calendar qualifying window.”

Both the Al Bayt and Lusail stadiums are still under construction, although the Al Bayt ground — which takes its shape from the traditional tents used by nomadic peoples in the Gulf region — is nearing completion, according to World Cup organizers.

Last week, rights group Amnesty International claimed that around a hundred migrant workers at the Al-Bayt stadium, which is 50 km north of Doha, have yet to receive outstanding wages in full after not being paid for up to seven months.

Earlier this month several sources told AFP that World Cup organizers will lay off an undisclosed number of staff as Qatar cuts costs amid the coronavirus economic downturn.

Qatar has one of the world’s highest per capita infection rates.

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Costa Rica still plans August airport reopening, Health Ministry says https://ticotimes.net/2020/07/15/costa-rica-still-plans-august-airport-reopening-health-ministry-says Wed, 15 Jul 2020 19:44:00 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=136074 Despite a recent increase in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths, Costa Rica still plans to reopen its airports for international travel in August, the Health Ministry said Wednesday. ]]>

Despite a recent increase in coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths, Costa Rica still plans to reopen its airports for international travel in August, the Health Ministry said Wednesday.

Authorities will announce further details in the coming days, according to Health Minister Daniel Salas, who has previously explained that the process will be gradual and controlled.

“With respect to the reopening, we maintain the expected date,” Salas said Wednesday. “We will be providing details regarding the protocols that will be used soon, in upcoming days.”

The current border restrictions ban arriving tourists until 11:59 p.m. on August 1. They also prevent residents who left the country after March 25 from re-entering Costa Rica.

Salas has said that Costa Rica will only allow tourists from countries with controlled spread of the coronavirus; authorities have not indicated what countries will qualify or how that will be determined.

Costa Rica’s major international airports — Juan Santamaría in Alajuela and Daniel Oduber Quirós in Liberia, Guanacaste — have established health measures to help minimize coronavirus spread. Arriving travelers will almost certainly be required to present an epidemiological form to authorities.

Tourism comprises an estimated 8.2% of Costa Rica’s GDP.

In 2019, more than 1.3 million tourists came to Costa Rica from the United States, more than any other single country by far. Over the same period, nearly 235,000 people visited Costa Rica from Canada, while more than 500,000 people arrived from Europe.

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Costa Rica coronavirus updates for July 15, 2020 https://ticotimes.net/2020/07/15/costa-rica-coronavirus-updates-for-july-15-2020 Wed, 15 Jul 2020 19:09:31 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=136062 Here is the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) information from Costa Rica as of Wednesday, July 15. ]]>

Costa Rica confirmed 504 new cases of the coronavirus over the past day, totaling 8,986 cumulative known cases, the Health Ministry announced Wednesday afternoon.

One-hundred and eighty-eight people are hospitalized with COVID-19 with 31 in intensive care, both new highs.

One-hundred and ten more people have been classified as recovered under Costa Rica’s definitions that qualify certain patients based on time rather than a negative test.

Costa Rica has 6,395 active cases and 2,551 recoveries.

Forty people have died in Costa Rica after contracting the coronavirus, including three deaths Wednesday. The data indicate Costa Rica has 0.78 COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 people.

Costa Rica coronavirus hospitalizations on July 15, 2020
Costa Rica coronavirus hospitalizations on July 15, 2020. Tico Times graph.

Two of the patients currently hospitalized at intensive-care units are children. The Health Ministry said Wednesday that both recently experienced improvements in their conditions.

As of Tuesday, 81 of the 88 intermediate-care beds at Costa Rica’s coronavirus-specific hospital (CEACO) are occupied. Forty-eight new beds will be added through a partnership with the National Insurance Institute’s (INS) Trauma Hospital, authorities said Wednesday.

In addition to the intermediate-care capacity at CEACO, Costa Rica’s Social Security System (CCSS) has plans to create up to 159 more ICU beds for coronavirus patients at various public hospitals, including at a new tower at Calderón Guardia Hospital in San José.

Most hospitalized patients have at least one risk factor, with hypertension, diabetes, obesity and smoking being the most common.

Costa Rica details three more deaths

The Health Ministry detailed three more COVID-19-related deaths on Wednesday:

  • A 71-year-old woman died at San Juan de Dios Hospital.
  • A 53-year-old man died at San Juan de Dios Hospital.
  • An 82-year-old man died at CEACO.

All were residents of San José province and had risk factors that potentially complicated their diagnosis.

Active coronavirus cases in Costa Rica

The recent spike in cases corresponds with both an increase in testing and with a higher test-positivity rate, as shown in the below graph:

Costa Rica coronavirus test positivity through July 12, 2020.
Costa Rica coronavirus test positivity through July 12, 2020. Tico Times graph.

The Greater Metropolitan Area — particularly the district of Pavas — is the country’s current epicenter. The entire GAM and much of Costa Rica are under an Orange Alert and have strict health measures, including driving bans.

Costa Rica has processed 61,216 tests as of Tuesday (12 tests per 1,000 people).

During its Wednesday press conference, the Health Ministry did not provide full detailed information on the locations of the new positive cases or the amount of tests processed. The below graphic will update automatically when the Health Ministry releases that information later this afternoon.

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News briefs: Fire set outside coronavirus shelter for indigenous people https://ticotimes.net/2020/07/15/news-briefs-fire-set-outside-indigenous-coronavirus-shelter Wed, 15 Jul 2020 17:02:24 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=136057 The shelter was housing at least three indigenous people, including the mother of a two-year-old who has tested positive for the coronavirus. ]]>

The coronavirus crisis has transformed life in Costa Rica, which has enacted measures to protect the capacity of its health system.

Here’s what you should know as a new day starts in Costa Rica:

Fire set outside shelter for indigenous people overnight

The National Emergency Commission (CNE) reported that a group of people had “set fire to mattresses and other objects” Wednesday morning at the entrance of a building in Turrialba that is being used as a shelter for indigenous people who may have COVID-19.

The shelter was housing at least three indigenous people, including the mother of a two-year-old who has tested positive for the coronavirus and is hospitalized in San José. They are being relocated to a second care center organized by the Municipality of Turrialba, CNE said.

National Police said the building was not damaged and that the fire was “controlled rapidly.”

CNE president Alexander Solís said the acts  demonstrate “a lack of solidarity and humanity, since the objective of having these centers is to guarantee rapid isolation to control the spread of the virus.”

“The people who must go to the COVID-19 attention centers are those who cannot fulfill their quarantine at home for physical-sanitary and security reasons,” the CNE statement read.

While details are still quite preliminary, Costa Rica has long struggled to protect indigenous land.

Those tensions escalated with the March 2019 murder of Sergio Rojas, after which the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) visited Costa Rica to supervise the country’s protection strategies for indigenous communities.

Health Ministry details 37th coronavirus death

The Health Ministry on Tuesday evening reported Costa Rica’s 37th COVID-19-related death.

The 68-year-old man, a resident of Alajuela province, had been hospitalized at San Juan de Dios Hospital’s intensive care unit since July 3. He had risk factors including hypertension, according to the Health Ministry.

The data indicate Costa Rica has 0.72 COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 people and 21 deaths in July alone.

Half of adult Costa Ricans have at least one risk factor.

Dial 1322 if you may have COVID-19. English-speaking operators are available.

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Costa Rica passes law against racism and violence in stadiums https://ticotimes.net/2020/07/15/costa-rica-passes-law-against-racism-and-violence-in-stadiums Wed, 15 Jul 2020 16:23:58 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=136054 Costa Rica's Legislative Assembly on Tuesday approved a law that punishes violence and manifestations of racism and xenophobia in sports venues.]]>

Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly on Tuesday approved a law that punishes violence and manifestations of racism and xenophobia in sports venues.

The Law Against Violence and Racism punishes those who commit violent and racist acts in sports venues and in their immediate vicinity (5 km) with penalties including a four-year ban from entering sports facilities.

Violence and manifestations of racism are frequent in some of Costa Rica’s soccer stadiums.

Clubs that tolerate racist behavior are now exposed to the closure of their facilities for periods ranging from five days to a full season.

If a violent or racist act is committed by an athlete or referee, he or she can face a sanction of one to four years without participating in sports activity.

The Association of Professional Soccer Players (Asojupro) celebrated the approval of the law, which in its opinion turns sports facilities into “spaces free of violence and racist acts.”

“The approval of this law is a victory for everyone, for the country and for the national sport,” said former soccer player Steven Bryce, executive director of Asojupro.

He added that “among so much discouraging news about the pandemic, this is something very positive and hopeful.”

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Costa Rica approves law punishing street sexual harassment with jail and fines https://ticotimes.net/2020/07/14/costa-rica-approves-law-punishing-street-sexual-harassment-with-jail-and-fines Tue, 14 Jul 2020 19:51:19 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=136051 A bill that penalizes street sexual harassment was approved Tuesday in a second debate by Costa Rica's Legislative Assembly. ]]>

Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly on Tuesday passed a law that criminalizes street sexual harassment and punishes it with prison terms and fines.

The Legislative Assembly approved the “Law Against Street Sexual Harassment” in a second and final debate with 47 votes in favor and none against. Ten deputies abstained from the vote.

The initiative, promoted by several parties, awaits ratification from President Carlos Alvarado and publication in official government newspaper La Gaceta to enter into force.

“I thank Congress and all the women who worked to make this initiative possible,” President Alvarado said.  “[It] will soon become law and will contribute to building a more respectful society.”

With the new law, anyone convicted of taking photos or videos with sexual intent in public places can be punished with prison terms of one year to one-and-a-half years. The sentence may be increased to two years if the material is shared with others.

Likewise, it imposes a six-month prison sentence those convicted of masturbating or exposing their genitals in public places.

Anyone who follows or corners another person without consent for sexual purposes may be punished with eight months to one year in prison.

Meanwhile, the use of words, noises, whistles, gasps or gestures with a sexual intent toward another person is punishable with a fine.

The Minister for Women’s Affairs, Patricia Mora, celebrated the legislation, which recognizes street harassment as a crime.

“Street sexual harassment is not harmless; it is violence against women and their bodies, and we can no longer continue to justify, naturalize or minimize this macho and everyday behavior,” Mora said in a statement released after the vote.

A 2015 study conducted by the National Institute for Women (INAMU) cited by the bill’s authors found that 70% of Costa Rican women surveyed had faced some form of sexual harassment in public spaces.

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Costa Rica coronavirus updates for July 14, 2020 https://ticotimes.net/2020/07/14/costa-rica-coronavirus-updates-for-july-14-2020 Tue, 14 Jul 2020 19:11:47 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=136038 Here is the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) information from Costa Rica as of Tuesday, July 14. ]]>

Costa Rica confirmed 446 new cases of the coronavirus over the past day, totaling 8,482 cumulative known cases, the Health Ministry announced Tuesday afternoon.

One-hundred and seventy-one people are hospitalized with COVID-19, a new high.

One-hundred and thirty-seven more people have been classified as recovered under Costa Rica’s definitions that qualify certain patients based on time rather than a negative test.

Costa Rica has 6,005 active cases and 2,441 recoveries.

Thirty-six people have died in Costa Rica after contracting the coronavirus, including six deaths Monday. The data indicate Costa Rica has 0.70 COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 people.

Costa Rica coronavirus hospitalizations on July 14, 2020.
Costa Rica coronavirus hospitalizations on July 14, 2020. Tico Times graph.

Two of the patients currently hospitalized at intensive-care units are children, the Health Ministry said Sunday.

As of Monday, 82 of the 88 intermediate-care beds at Costa Rica’s coronavirus-specific hospital (CEACO) are occupied.

In addition to the intermediate-care capacity at CEACO, Costa Rica’s Social Security System (CCSS) has plans to create up to 159 more ICU beds for coronavirus patients at various public hospitals, including at a new tower at Calderón Guardia Hospital in San José.

Most hospitalized patients have at least one risk factor, with hypertension, diabetes, obesity and smoking being the most common.

Monday was Costa Rica’s deadliest day

Six people with COVID-19 died in Costa Rica on Monday, the Health Ministry confirmed Tuesday afternoon.

  • A 43-year-old resident of San José province died while in intensive care.
  • A 72-year-old resident of San José province died while in intensive care.
  • An 81-year-old resident of San José province died while at Costa Rica’s coronavirus-specific hospital (CEACO).
  • A 46-year-old resident of San José province died while hospitalized.
  • A 90-year-old resident of San José province died while in intensive care.
  • A 94-year-old resident of San José province died while in intensive care.

All had at least one risk factor, according to the Health Ministry. (Half of Costa Rican adults have at least one COVID-19 risk factor.)

U.S. Embassy, Health Ministry sound alert on scams

The U.S. Embassy in San José is not depositing money or delivering food packages through Amazon to Costa Ricans who have been affected by COVID-19.

Similarly, the Health Ministry is not investing in or distributing Bitcoin (cryptocurrency) to Ticos.

Remember: Keep personal information to yourself, and be especially wary when you receive an e-mail, text message or phone call asking for personal information.

Active coronavirus cases in Costa Rica

The recent spike in cases corresponds with both an increase in testing and with a higher test-positivity rate, as shown in the below graph:

Costa Rica coronavirus test positivity through July 12, 2020.
Costa Rica coronavirus test positivity through July 12, 2020. Tico Times graph.

The Greater Metropolitan Area — particularly the district of Pavas — is the country’s current epicenter. The entire GAM and much of Costa Rica are under an Orange Alert and have strict health measures, including driving bans.

Costa Rica has processed 59,749 tests as of Monday (11.7 tests per 1,000 people). This includes 65 positive tests across 1,500 processed as part of mass testing in Alajuelita canton.

During its Tuesday press conference, the Health Ministry did not provide full detailed information on the locations of the new positive cases or the amount of tests processed. The below graphic will update automatically when the Health Ministry releases that information later this afternoon.

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Panama hospitals on verge of collapse as virus cases surge https://ticotimes.net/2020/07/14/panama-hospitals-on-verge-of-collapse-as-virus-cases-surge Tue, 14 Jul 2020 18:18:08 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=136035 Hospitals in Panama are on the brink of collapse as coronavirus cases spike in the Central American country worst hit by the pandemic, where doctors are already exhausted.]]>

Hospitals in Panama are on the brink of collapse as coronavirus cases spike in the Central American country worst hit by the pandemic, where doctors are already exhausted.

With a population of four million, Panama has gone from 200 cases a day to 1,100 over the last few weeks.

“Our daily number of infected patients has been increasing in a sustained way to the point of passing 1,000 cases,” David Villalobos, head of the intensive care unit at the Arnulfo Arias Madrid Hospital in Panama City, told AFP.

“There are no hospitals that could sustain such a number,” he said.

The sharp increase has forced authorities to adapt existing hospitals and look for new spaces, like convention centers, to boost a health system with a range of problems including long waiting lists.

“The fear of the collapse of the public system in our country is evident if the number of cases remains the same,” Domingo Moreno, coordinator of a coalition of healthcare workers’ unions, told AFP.

“In the next two weeks we probably won’t have anywhere to put beds.”

With 47,000 cases and 932 deaths, Panama has the worst official tally of coronavirus infections in the region.

‘It’s exhausting’

According to official figures, more than 20,000 people are in isolation at home or in hotels. Another 1,164 are receiving hospital treatment, 159 of whom are in intensive care.

Authorities estimate that of every 100 people infected, 20 end up in hospital — meaning that at the current rate, 200 people a day are being admitted to hospital, and 50 to intensive care.

“It’s exhausting, sometimes we have to go back at night for admissions. But here we are,” Giselle Sanchez, a doctor caring for the most serious COVID-19 patients, told AFP.

Doctors and nurses around the country have protested in recent weeks demanding medical supplies and protective equipment.

“There’s fear of infection, of being in a situation that puts your life at risk. This is a war of attrition,” said Moreno.

President Laurentino Cortizo recently pledged to carry out 4,000 tests a day to find and isolate those infected.

But some people, like Silda Idalia Rios, are afraid of taking the test because of rumors circulating about the pandemic.

The virus “has come to attack us”, she told AFP, conceding that “you need to accept that you have to take a test to see if it’s positive”.

Health Minister Francisco Sucre said he was aware of a significant group of people continuing to go out despite knowing they had contracted COVID-19, making it harder to get the outbreak under control.

“We are directly dependent on what the people can do or prevent in the street. The people really need to understand that we’re going to collapse,” said Malena Urrutia, from the COVID-19 coordination team at the Arnulfo Arias Madrid Hospital.

Cortizo said: “As president I would like to tell you that it’s over, but it isn’t. We still don’t have a vaccine. The battle goes on.”

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Several institutions suspend operations due to Orange Alert https://ticotimes.net/2020/07/14/several-institutions-suspend-operations-due-to-orange-alert Tue, 14 Jul 2020 16:37:35 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=136029 Several Costa Rican institutions have reduced or suspended operations this week due to the Orange Alert that comprises the Greater Metropolitan Area (among other cantons).]]>

Several Costa Rican institutions have reduced or suspended operations this week due to the Orange Alert that comprises the Greater Metropolitan Area (among other cantons).

Below is an incomplete list of affected services.

  • COSEVI has suspended all appointments to return confiscated license plates through Friday. Existing appointments for this week will be rescheduled; contact 2522-0815 or plataforma-serviciosj@csv.go.cr for more information.
  • Riteve is closed until Friday for locations under an Orange Alert. Those with affected appointments will receive a message to reschedule. Click here for full details, and click here to visit the online reservation system.
  • Banks in Orange Alert cantons are closed this week. Locations in Yellow Alert areas may have modified hours. ATMs and digital platforms remain active.
  • Train service in the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) is suspended until Tuesday, July 21, according to INCOFER. Local bus routes are largely operating, though with reduced service.
  • The National Registry has closed its principal and regional offices this week. It recommends using the online platform instead.
  • The Supreme Elections Tribunal justice (TSE) is receiving only digital correspondence until July 24. More info here. The validity of expiring cédulas has been extended.
  • The Immigration Administration is offering no public service at the Central Migration Offices in La Uruca this week. (This includes requesting passports, exit permits for minors and certifications of migratory movements.)
  • The National Power and Light Company (CNFL) has suspended in-person support and non-critical work in Orange Alert cantons. For virtual support: WhatsApp 83195273, call 800-energía or visit cnfl.go.cr.
  • The Costa Rican Water and Sewer Institute (AyA) closed offices in Orange Alert cantons. Contact 800-REPORTE or visit their website for support. Essential work to ensure access to water continues.
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News briefs: Health Ministry condemns those who don’t believe in pandemic https://ticotimes.net/2020/07/14/news-briefs-health-ministry-condemns-those-who-dont-believe-in-pandemic Tue, 14 Jul 2020 15:45:41 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=136022 Those protesters — many wearing masks or face shields — argued that not enough people had died in Costa Rica to justify the response.]]>

The coronavirus crisis has transformed life in Costa Rica, which has enacted measures to protect the capacity of its health system.

Here’s what you should know as a new day starts in Costa Rica:

Protest bothers & disappoints Health Ministry

Health Minister Daniel Salas condemned a small group who on Monday protested at Casa Presidencial with signs declaring, “There is no pandemic.”

Speaking to news outlets, those protesters — many wearing masks or face shields — argued that not enough people had died in Costa Rica to justify the response.

“It is painful to hear different messages that have been circulating,” Salas said Monday afternoon. “We could have many more deaths in Costa Rica if we had not done things as we have been doing since the pandemic started.

“These phenomena occur; viruses are real; pandemics occur from time to time. At this time, to tell the families of people who are hospitalized in intensive care units and who are crying to their families that this does not exist, that this virus was invented — it is a cruelty, it is a contempt for human life.”

The World Health Organization lists a death toll of nearly 570,000 people due to the pandemic, defined as “a death resulting from a clinically compatible illness in a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case, unless there is a clear alternative cause of death.” 

Costa Rica’s deadliest day

The Health Ministry announced four more COVID-19-related deaths on Monday, making it Costa Rica’s deadliest day.

  • A 43-year-old resident of San José province died while in intensive care.
  • A 72-year-old resident of San José province died while in intensive care.
  • An 81-year-old resident of San José province died while at Costa Rica’s coronavirus-specific hospital (CEACO).
  • A 46-year-old resident of San José province died while hospitalized.

All had at least one risk factor, according to the Health Ministry. (Half of adult Costa Ricans have at least one COVID-19 risk factor.)

The data indicate Costa Rica has 0.67 COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 people. Deaths have doubled since July 2.

Dial 1322 if you may have COVID-19. English-speaking operators are available.

After long lines, buses adjust capacity limits

The Public Transportation Council (CTP) on Tuesday issued updated guidelines after bus riders reported long lines Monday.

Between Tuesday and Friday, routes under 75 km can operate with up to 50% of their regularly scheduled service, CTP said. Operators can also adjust frequencies to better accommodate riders during peak hours.

Monday’s lines were a result of restrictions meant to reduce mobility in the Greater Metropolitan Area in order for health authorities to better trace the coronavirus.

While there are wide-ranging driving bans this week, people can continue to drive to and from work with proper proof.

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