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. Tue, 29 Sep 2020 20:01:45 +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 Costa Rica coronavirus updates for Tuesday, September 29 https://ticotimes.net/2020/09/29/costa-rica-coronavirus-updates-for-tuesday-september-29 Tue, 29 Sep 2020 20:01:45 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=138582 Costa Rica coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths on September 29, 2020Costa Rica coronavirus COVID-19 updates for Tuesday, September 29

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Costa Rica announced 19 new coronavirus-related deaths over the last day for a total of 880, according to official data released Tuesday afternoon by the Health Ministry.

Six-hundred and six people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 230 are in intensive care.

The Health Ministry confirmed 890 new cases, of which 672 were identified via a lab test, for a total of 74,604.

A total of 30,703 people have been cleared as recovered; the Health Ministry says this number lags behind actual recoveries. Costa Rica has 43,021 known active cases.

The data indicate Costa Rica has 17.3 COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 people. The country is averaging 15.3 deaths each day in September, including double-digit deaths for 17 straight days.

Costa Rica has 359 intensive-care beds and 986 beds for less-complex coronavirus hospitalizations. This means 64% of Costa Rica’s ICU beds are currently occupied.

Costa Rica’s outbreak in a global context

Costa Rica has the eighth-most new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, according to data compiled by The New York Times. Only Israel, Andorra, Aruba, Bahrain, Montenegro, Argentina and Spain have more new cases per 100,000 residents over the last week.

About 1.2% of people who tested positive for the coronavirus in Costa Rica have died. The 880 deaths comprise 283 adults and 597 elderly adults.


The below graph shows Costa Rica’s test-positivity rate (the fraction of tests that come back positive) as of Saturday, September 26. The Tico Times calculates daily positivity using Health Ministry data as follows:

(People testing positive) ÷ (People testing positive + people testing negative)

The World Health Organization recommends testing enough to keep the positivity rate under 5%; Costa Rica’s high test-positivity rate suggests it’s missing milder or asymptomatic cases, allowing the coronavirus to continue to spread.

We’ll update this weekly.

Costa Rica coronavirus test positivity through September 26, 2020
Costa Rica coronavirus test positivity through September 26, 2020. Tico Times graph.

The below graphic will update automatically as the Health Ministry releases new coronavirus data.

If you believe you have COVID-19, contact Costa Rica’s hotline at 1322. English-speaking staff and mental health professionals are available.

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Costa Rica says coronavirus measures continue in October https://ticotimes.net/2020/09/29/costa-rica-says-coronavirus-measures-continue-in-october Tue, 29 Sep 2020 19:34:58 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=138575 Central Market disinfectedThe Costa Rican government announced coronavirus measures for the month of October.

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President Carlos Alvarado and the National Emergency Commission (CNE) on Tuesday  announced Costa Rica’s coronavirus measures will continue in October.

The current measures, which permit for most economic activity to operate with some restrictions, will apply throughout all of October.

“During the month of October we will continue with the measures that we have operated through most of September,” President Alvarado said.

Here’s what that means:

Most commercial activities allowed

Most commercial establishments can remain open nationwide, including in Orange Alert areas. Capacity limits and other distancing rules are typically mandated.

However, some activities and businesses still cannot operate. This includes mass-gathering events, bars and casinos, among others. (Bars can operate as restaurants.)

If a canton in an Orange Alert cannot or does not establish a “Prevention Plan” to respond to the area’s coronavirus spread, health authorities may establish localized restrictions that permit for only essential activities.

The general public must continue wearing masks in public, respecting physical distancing and avoiding unnecessary exposure to others.

Vehicular restrictions continue

The vehicular restrictions will continue throughout October.

On weekdays, driving is permitted from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. On weekends, driving is permitted from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.

  • Mondays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 1 and 2 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Tuesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 3 and 4 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Wednesdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 5 and 6 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Thursdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 7 and 8 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Fridays: Vehicles with license plates ending in 9 and 0 cannot drive. Vehicles with license plates ending in all other numbers can transit freely.
  • Saturdays: Vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers cannot drive.
  • Sundays: Vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers cannot drive.

As is customary, there are many exceptions to the driving restrictions. These include: People driving to/from work, people driving rental cars, people driving to/from a hotel reservation, people driving to/from the airport, and people driving to/from a medical appointment. (Drivers will be asked for proof if stopped by Traffic Police.)

Cantons in an Orange Alert

Click here for an interactive map of Orange/Yellow Alert cantons in Costa Rica.

Other items of note

  • The Costa Rican Presidency has created this Spanish-language site with official documentation of the current restrictions.
  • Generally, establishments can remain open in accordance to the day’s vehicular restrictions (i.e. until 10 p.m. on weekdays and 8 p.m. on weekends).
  • Beaches are allowed to open daily until 2:30 p.m. in all locations. (Some municipalities have chosen to close their beaches.)
  • Open-air tourism activities are permitted until 10 p.m. on weekdays and 8 p.m. on weekends.
  • Most National Parks are open, regardless of the location or phase.
  • Driving to/from a non-traditional accommodation (e.g. an AirBnB) will qualify for an exemption to the vehicular restrictions.

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These are the requirements to enter Costa Rica as a tourist https://ticotimes.net/2020/09/29/these-are-the-requirements-to-enter-costa-rica-as-a-tourist Tue, 29 Sep 2020 17:48:21 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=138570 Water cannons welcome a flight to Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica on September 5, 2020.Passengers have reported that United Airlines is misinterpreting Costa Rica's requirements and denying boarding to otherwise qualified traveler

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Costa Rica is currently welcoming tourists from select countries and U.S. states.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Costa Rica has an expanded list of entry requirements for foreign visitors. While the rules are relatively straightforward, they have still created confusion, and Costa Rica has turned away people who didn’t meet the guidelines.

More recently, passengers have reported that United Airlines is misinterpreting Costa Rica’s requirements and denying boarding to otherwise qualified travelers.

“It is possible that [requirements] were confused, and we apologize if there was any misinformation,” the airline said.

So let’s make it clear to United Airlines and to travelers. Here are are the requirements to fly into Costa Rica on a commercial flight as a tourist.

Tourists must come from an authorized country/state

  • UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: 
    • As of Sept. 1, 2020: Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
    • As of Sept. 15, 2020: Arizona, Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington and Wyoming.
    • As of Oct. 1, 2020: California and Ohio.
  • CANADA for citizens and residents
  • MEXICO for citizens and residents
  • THE EUROPEAN UNION SCHENGEN ZONE
  • UNITED KINGDOM
  • SOUTH AMERICA: for citizens and residents of Uruguay.
  • THE CARIBBEAN: for citizens and residents of Jamaica.
  • ASIA: for citizens and residents of Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, and the People’s Republic of China.
  • OCEANIA: for citizens and residents of Australia and New Zealand.

U.S. citizens must prove their residency via State ID or driver’s license. Those coming from a country that isn’t the United States must have resided there for 14 days.

Tourists must meet the following requirements

  • Fill out the electronic epidemiological HEALTH PASS form, available at https://salud.go.cr. Airlines may require this to be completed in the 48 hours before you board the flight to Costa Rica.
  • RT-PCR diagnostic test with a negative result; the sample must have been taken within 72 hours of departure from the country/state of origin. Results must be in English or Spanish.
  • Traveler’s Medical Insurance: International or purchased in Costa Rica through the National Insurance Institute (INS) or Sagicor, covering the duration of your stay in Costa Rica.

The INS and Sagicor policies are pre-approved and guaranteed to be accepted by Costa Rican authorities. If you choose to purchase an international policy, it must have:

  • Guaranteed coverage of medical expenses in the event of becoming ill with COVID-19 while in Costa Rica, for at least $50,000 USD.
  • Minimum coverage of $2,000 USD for lodging expenses issued as a result of the pandemic.

Questions, clarifications, and more information on entry requirements

The Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) lists all the current entry requirements for tourists on its website. Click here for the official page.

Tourists with further questions should contact ICT at: seguros@ict.go.cr.

Residents and Costa Rican citizens do not need to present an RT-PCR test or travel insurance to enter Costa Rica. Questions should be directed to the Costa Rican Embassy or Consulate.

Summary: Costa Rica entry requirements for tourists

Foreign tourists wishing to visit Costa Rica must:

  • Come from an approved country or state.
  • Complete the Health Pass online form.
  • Show proof of a negative coronavirus test, from a sample taken within 72 hours of departure.
  • Purchase valid travel medical insurance.

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Message for U.S. Citizens in Costa Rica: Don’t let the elections pass you by https://ticotimes.net/2020/09/29/message-for-u-s-citizens-in-costa-rica-dont-let-the-elections-pass-you-by Tue, 29 Sep 2020 17:11:42 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=138568 The Great Seal of the United States.As the U.S. presidential race begins in earnest, we're sharing a message from the United States Embassy about voting from abroad. 

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As the U.S. presidential elections approach, we’re sharing a message from the U.S. Embassy in San José about how citizens abroad can vote.

The 2020 U.S. presidential election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020, but citizens should act now to ensure their vote is counted.

* * * *

If you plan to vote in the November 2020 election it is important to ACT NOW!  Don’t wait, return your voted ballot right away! Remember U.S. embassies and consulates are not polling places; same-day in-person voting is not available outside the United States – but you can get assistance in requesting and returning your absentee ballot.  Many states require voted ballots to reach local election officials by the close of polls on Tuesday, November 3.

The Department of State is committed to assisting overseas voters in casting their ballots.  For instructions on how to vote from Costa Rica please see our website https://cr.usembassy.gov/ .  For general overseas voting information please see the Department of State’s web site Absentee Voting Information for U.S. Citizens Abroad or FVAP.gov.

Never received your ballot?  If you registered to vote and requested an absentee ballot prior to your state’s registration deadline, but have not yet received your ballot, complete and return a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot to ensure your vote reaches election officials by your state’s deadline.  If your regular ballot arrives later, complete and return it as well.  Your Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot will only be counted if your regular ballot does not reach local election officials by your state’s deadline.  Your vote will not be counted twice.

RETURNING YOUR BALLOT:

Note that the U.S. Postal Service recommends voters mail their completed ballots before Election Day and at least one week prior to your state’s deadline.  To allow processing time between Department of State and U.S. Postal Service systems this means ballots must be received in the Embassy no later than October 9, 2020.  Ballots received after that date will be forwarded but may arrive too late to be counted.  Please also check the regulations in the state in which you vote as deadlines may differ, and you may have alternative voting options such as electronic voting or by fax.

The above timeline is based on current local and U.S. conditions, which are subject to change.  Should conditions change and impact the timeline we will alert you.  We strongly recommend you submit your ballot as far in advance as possible.

If you wish to drop off your ballot, or have a friend or colleague drop it off for you, place it in either a U.S. postage-paid envelope (provided with the ballot) or an envelope bearing domestic U.S. postage addressed to your local election officials. If you are currently in Costa Rica, you can return your completed ballot to the United States via the U.S. Embassy, San Jose. There is a secure box outside the main entrance where you may drop off your election-related materials in person, Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 4:00pm. Please ensure the envelope is correctly addressed, sealed, and has sufficient U.S. postage.

If you would like to mail your ballot to the U.S. Embassy in San Jose to be forwarded to the U.S., we recommend using the courier service that Correos de Costa Rica offers, more commonly known as EMS.

In order to mail election-related materials to the United States, you will need two envelopes. Address the first envelope to the U.S. Embassy, San Jose at the mailing address below. Address the second envelope to your local state election office and enclose your ballot inside. The second envelope needs to be postage-paid or have sufficient U.S. postage to be delivered to your local election office from the U.S. sorting facility where it will be mailed. Seal the second envelope, place it inside the first envelope, and mail the package to the U.S. Embassy. The address to send the ballot is below:

U.S. Embassy San Jose Costa Rica
Attention: ACS Unit
Vía 104, Calle 98
In front of Plaza del Oeste
Pavas
San Jose, Costa Rica.

Missed the U.S. embassy shipment deadline?  Consider returning your ballot to the United States via a commercial express courier service such as FedEx, UPS, or DHL or return your voted ballot electronically if allowed by your state.  Ballots sent to local election officials via express courier service do not receive standard postmarks, so voters using this method should confirm delivery on or before November 3 prior to payment and shipment.  Check your state’s voting procedures at www.FVAP.gov for guidance.

Returning your Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot by email or fax.  Review your state’s voting procedures at www.FVAP.gov carefully for guidance.

 Returning your ballot by international mail delivery.  If using Costa Rica’s postal system, be sure to affix sufficient international postage, and allow sufficient time for international mail delivery.  Ballots sent via regular international mail from most countries at this late date are unlikely to reach local election officials by state ballot receipt deadlines, so you may need to consider another method. 

HELP SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT OVERSEAS VOTING.  Please help spread the word to your friends, family, and colleagues that now is the time to confirm your overseas voting plan.  Consider posting to your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or other social media account that you are an active voter and will be dropping off or mailing your Federal Post Card Application or completed ballot.  Use #ProudOverseasVoter to help get the word out about voting. 

Need help or have questions?

Please contact Costa Rica’s Voting Assistance Officer at ACSSanJose@state.gov.  You can also contact the Federal Voting Assistance Program directly if you encounter issues with local election officials by emailing Vote@FVAP.gov or toll free by phone from many countries around the world.

Confirm your registration and ballot delivery online.  Learn more at the Federal Voting Assistance Program’s (FVAP) website at www.FVAP.gov.

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Protests to block Costa Rica roads, cause other disruptions Wednesday https://ticotimes.net/2020/09/29/protests-to-block-costa-rica-roads-cause-other-disruptions-wednesday Tue, 29 Sep 2020 15:51:40 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=138564 Route 32 to LimónPlanned demonstrations throughout the country could block Costa Rican highways and cause other disruptions Wednesday.

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Planned demonstrations throughout the country could block Costa Rican highways and cause other disruptions Wednesday.

The “Movimiento Rescate Nacional” will protest against Costa Rica’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the possible privatization of public institutions and proposed tax increases, according to its leader.

“Costa Rica has resources to face the fiscal hole it’s facing,” said lawyer José Miguel Corrales Bolaños in an interview with Teletica. “The loan is not necessary.

“We ask the government: Number one, stop negotiating with the IMF; number two, no new taxes; and number three, to enable global income tax, and that science and technology are used by the Finance Ministry to prevent tax evasion.”

Corrales said the manifestations will impact key highways, including the Interamericana, Route 27 and Route 32. Shipping ports (Limón and Caldera) and land border posts may also be affected.

“This will last for as long as the government wants it to last,” Corrales said, saying that he has asked for a meeting with President Carlos Alvarado.

The Costa Rican Presidency says a $1.75 billion loan through the IMF’s Extended Fund Facility (EFF) is necessary to guarantee the country’s economic stability in the medium term.

“In the 1980s, we already experienced a crisis born from debt problems,” the Presidency said in a video broacast on national TV, referencing the skyrocketing inflation, devaluation of the colón and poverty that characterized that period in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica in 2019 reached its worst fiscal deficit in three decades, and the Central Bank expects the deficit to reach nearly 10% of GDP this year due to the pandemic. Unemployment has reached 24%, the highest in history.

When a country borrows through the EFF, it “commits to undertake policies to overcome economic and structural problems.” The Presidency has proposed a fee on banking transactions, higher income taxes for top earners, and an increase on real estate property taxes, but these measures face considerable disapproval in the Legislative Assembly.

 

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False information punishable by years in prison under proposed Nicaraguan law https://ticotimes.net/2020/09/29/false-information-punishable-by-years-in-prison-under-proposed-nicaraguan-law Tue, 29 Sep 2020 14:24:14 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=138561 A vendor selling newspapers holds an edition of "La Prensa"The draft bill would allow sentences of two to four years for the publication or dissemination of false (or) distorted information, likely to spread anxiety, anguish or fear.

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Deputies from Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s party on Monday proposed a law that would make spreading fake news on social media punishable by up to four years in prison, government sources said.

The draft bill would allow sentences of two to four years for “the publication or dissemination of false (or) distorted information, likely to spread anxiety, anguish or fear,” according to the text published on the National Assembly website.

Under the proposed law, people convicted of fraud or cyber espionage, identity theft or use of the internet to corrupt minors or for child pornography will be punished with two to 10 years in prison.

The law also covers access to personal data and using social networks to threaten or intimidate people because of their ethnic, cultural or religious background.

The bill was presented to the National Assembly, where Ortega’s supporters hold the majority, a week after another controversial law was proposed.

The previous bill would require any person who receives funding from abroad to register with the Ministry of the Interior as a “foreign agent.” They would then be subject to close monitoring and restrictions on their civic and political rights.

The bill, which would apply to NGOs and foreign correspondents among others, has caused an international outcry, as well as among Nicaraguan press circles and the opposition.

Rights groups have accused Ortega of running a repressive dictatorship whose crackdown on protests in 2018 left more than 300 people dead. He has also repeatedly played down the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in Nicaragua.

Ortega has implemented no restrictions and claims the country has been successful in its response.

Official figures of the caseload and death toll in Nicaragua are far lower than estimates from international NGOs.

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Costa Rica learns opponents for upcoming Gold Cup https://ticotimes.net/2020/09/29/costa-rica-learns-opponents-for-upcoming-gold-cup Tue, 29 Sep 2020 13:51:32 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=138557 2021 Gold Cup groupsCosta Rica will face Jamaica, Suriname and a to-be-determined team as part of Group C play.

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CONCACAF on Monday announced the groups for the 2021 Gold Cup, the men’s international soccer tournament for North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

Costa Rica will face Jamaica, Suriname and a to-be-determined team as part of Group C play.

The winner and second-place finisher of Costa Rica’s group will face the top teams from Group B, meaning La Sele could have a quarterfinal matchup against the United States or Canada.

The final member of Costa Rica’s group — determined by a preliminary round — will be Guatemala, Guyana, Guadalupe or The Bahamas.

“We expanded last year’s Gold Cup and it was a huge success in showcasing outstanding football from our region. We want to build on that for the 2021 edition and believe the introduction of the Prelims and an exciting new format for the Knockout Stage will provide a great spectacle next year,” said CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani.

Asian Cup champions Qatar were invited to the Gold Cup and will compete in Group D alongside Honduras, Panama and Grenada.

The Group Stage of the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup will kick off on July 10, 2021.

CONCACAF says it will announce venues, kick-off times, schedule, and other details for the Gold Cup “in the coming months.”

“I know that many communities in our region are going through challenging times and the thoughts of everyone at Concacaf are with them. I hope tonight’s draw provided some anticipation for the fans,” Montagliani said.

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Chirripó National Park to reopen October 30 https://ticotimes.net/2020/09/28/chirripo-national-park-to-reopen-october-30 Mon, 28 Sep 2020 20:45:32 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=138554 Chirripó National Park will reopen for tourists on October 30, the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) announced Monday. 

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Chirripó National Park will reopen for tourists on October 30, the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) announced Monday.

Visitors hoping to explore Costa Rica’s tallest peak should book their admission on SINAC’s online reservation platform. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, overnight availability at Crestones Base Camp is limited to 50% of the shelter normal capacity.

The Crestones Base Camp and the majority of Chirripó National Park’s trails have been off-limits to visitors since February 15.

In August, Costa Rican authorities inaugurated new base camp facilities, featuring more overnight accommodations for tourists with panoramic views of the nearby peaks. A water-treatment plant and infirmary comprise some of the other upgrades.

“We celebrate the inauguration of these important works that will undoubtedly help in the economic part of the community,” said Vice President Epsy Campbell during last month’s ceremonies.

Cerro Chirripó is Costa Rica’s tallest peak, rising 12,533 feet above sea level and offering incredible, panoramic views from the summit.

For most visitors, the hike begins in the small village of San Gerardo de Rivas, which overlooks the powerful Chirripó Pacific River. From the trailhead, the hike traverses 14 kilometers, mostly uphill, to Crestones Base Camp, which can now sleep 60 people.

Alejandro Zúñiga

It’s about 5.5 kilometers from Crestones to the summit, with the last stretch being a steep-angle climb to reach the very top.

Nearly 6,500 people visited Chirripó in 2018, according to the latest data from the Costa Rica Tourism Board, and the National Park is an important economic driver for the surrounding villages.

(Courtesy of Felipe López)

 

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Costa Rica coronavirus updates for Monday, September 28 https://ticotimes.net/2020/09/28/costa-rica-coronavirus-updates-for-monday-september-28 Mon, 28 Sep 2020 19:14:08 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=138548 Costa Rica coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths on September 28, 2020Costa Rica coronavirus COVID-19 updates for Monday, September 28.

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Costa Rica announced 49 new coronavirus-related deaths since Friday for a total of 861, according to official data released Monday afternoon by the Health Ministry.

Six-hundred and seventeen people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 228 are in intensive care.

The Health Ministry confirmed 1,233 new cases on Saturday, 935 on Sunday and 730 on Monday for a cumulative total of 73,714.

A total of 29,420 people have been cleared as recovered; the Health Ministry says this number lags behind actual recoveries. Costa Rica has 43,433 known active cases.

The data indicate Costa Rica has 16.9 COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 people. The country is averaging 15 deaths each day in September, including double-digit deaths for 16 straight days.

Costa Rica has 359 intensive-care beds and 986 beds for less-complex coronavirus hospitalizations. This means 64% of Costa Rica’s ICU beds are currently occupied.

Costa Rica’s outbreak in a global context

Costa Rica has the seventh-most new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, according to data compiled by The New York Times. Only Israel, Andorra, Aruba, Bahrain, Montenegro and Argentina have more new cases per 100,000 residents over the last week.

About 1.1% of people with COVID-19 in Costa Rica have died, ranking among the best case-fatality rates in the Americas, according to Johns Hopkins University. (For context, case fatality is 2.9% in the United States, 6.0% in Canada and 10.5% in Mexico.)


The below graph shows Costa Rica’s test-positivity rate (the fraction of tests that come back positive) as of Saturday, September 26. The Tico Times calculates daily positivity using Health Ministry data as follows:

(People testing positive) ÷ (People testing positive + people testing negative)

The World Health Organization recommends testing enough to keep the positivity rate under 5%; Costa Rica’s high test-positivity rate suggests it’s missing milder or asymptomatic cases, allowing the coronavirus to continue to spread.

We’ll update this weekly.

Costa Rica coronavirus test positivity through September 26, 2020
Costa Rica coronavirus test positivity through September 26, 2020. Tico Times graph.

The below graphic will update automatically as the Health Ministry releases new coronavirus data.

If you believe you have COVID-19, contact Costa Rica’s hotline at 1322. English-speaking staff and mental health professionals are available.

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SJO airport improvements delayed, report says https://ticotimes.net/2020/09/28/sjo-airport-improvements-costa-rica-delayed-report-says Mon, 28 Sep 2020 17:32:14 +0000 https://ticotimes.net/?p=138542 Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela, Costa RicaThe operator of Costa Rica's Juan Santamaría International Airport will suspend planned improvements for several years due to the effects of the pandemic, according to a report. 

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The operator of Costa Rica’s Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) will suspend planned improvements for several years due to the effects of the pandemic, according to a report.

The daily La Nación reports that the dramatic decrease in air traffic in 2020 has created an economic situation forcing Aeris, SJO’s operator, to push back its plans for Costa Rica’s busiest airport.

Among the suspended improvements is the so-called “infill project,” a planned four-story building with more check-in kiosks, another baggage carousel and an expanded customs area.

“It’s a work that loses importance because it is linked to traffic capacity,” said Rafael Mencía, director of Aeris. “With the drastic decrease in air traffic caused by the pandemic, that work may be postponed to 2023 or 2024.”

Another delayed project is the relocation of the firefighting facilities, though that will be prioritized in 2021 due to its safety implications.

According to Aeris, the upgrades at SJO are meant to keep the Alajuela airport viable as an international hub for at least 20 more years.

But the oft-bustling airport has been largely empty in 2020. Mencía says air traffic at SJO fell 98% from March to August 2020, when Costa Rica’s borders were closed to arriving tourists due to COVID-19.

In August, as Costa Rica began welcoming visitors from Canada and Europe, overall passenger volume was still 96% lower than in August 2019.

And the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts global air traffic won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2024, further reducing the need for SJO’s expansion.

SJO is Costa Rica’s largest and busiest international airport, typically handling 5 million passengers each year.

Costa Rica has explored replacing SJO with a larger airport in Orotina, Alajuela, which was originally projected for opening in 2027. However, the Public Works and Transport Ministry now says it’s questioning the need for a new airport and has not advanced the project.

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