On Thursday, July 2, authorities in Costa Rica placed most of the San Jose Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) under an Orange Alert (third highest on a four-point scale), in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). All commercial activities are limited to 05:00 to 19:00 (local time) on weekdays, with only essential facilities, such as hospitals, pharmacies, and supermarkets permitted to open on weekends. Places of worship, bars, and public parks remain closed, and mass gatherings are prohibited. Other districts under an Orange Alert include Guatuso, Los Chiles, Upala, Bagaces, Pococi, Paquera, Puntarenas, and Corredores, among others.
In addition, nationwide vehicular restrictions are in place between 05:00 and 19:00, with the last digit on the license plate dictating when a vehicle is permitted on the road. The system is as follows:
· Monday: From 05:00 to 19:00, vehicles with license plates ending in 1 and 2 cannot drive.
· Tuesday: From 05:00 to 19:00, vehicles with license plates ending in 3 and 4 cannot drive.
· Wednesday: From 05:00 to 19:00, vehicles with license plates ending in 5 and 6 cannot drive.
· Thursday: From 05:00 to 19:00, vehicles with license plates ending in 7 and 8 cannot drive.
· Friday: From. 05:00 to 19:00, vehicles with license plates ending in 9 and 0 cannot drive.
· Saturday: From 05:00 to 19:00, vehicles with license plates ending in even numbers cannot drive.
· Sunday: From 05:00 to 19:00, vehicles with license plates ending in odd numbers cannot drive.
From June 27, the majority of the country entered the third phase of the government's economic reopening plan (Yellow Alert). Shops, museums, and theatres in these areas may open on weekends; however, they may only operate at 50 percent capacity. Churches may also hold services with more attendees, and beaches can remain open for longer and during weekends. Shoppers and those on public transport are now required to wear masks nationwide.
The country's borders are to remain closed to tourists until August. The health ministry stated that, upon reopening, airports will take arrivals from countries deemed to have controlled the spread of COVID-19.
As of Wednesday, July 8, there have been 5486 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Costa Rica, with 23 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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