Coronavirus – COVID-19. The virus that was declared a global pandemic on March 11, 2020 by the World Health Organization has rapidly reached all corners of the world, including Costa Rica.
On March 6, 2020, Costa Rica confirmed their first case of COVID-19. It was an imported case by an American woman who had previously visited Italy and Tunisia before entering Costa Rica on February 29th, 2020. She tested positive as well as her husband who was asymptomatic and both were put into isolation. On March 7, 2020, Costa Rica had a total of 5 confirmed cases.
*I will update this post for major changes.*
What is the Coronavirus Situation Like in Costa Rica now?
As of April 28, 2020, Costa Rica has 705 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
- 6 fatalities
- 306 recovered
- 8356 discarded cases
- 12,729 total tests
- Age range of 1 to 87 years
- 336 women, 369 men
- The first fatality was on March 18, 2020.
Costa Rica Coronavirus Cases Locations
The epicenter of coronavirus cases in Costa Rica is San Jose (canton) in San Jose province. The next area with most cases is Alajuela canton in Alajuela province. San Jose is the capital city of Costa Rica and Alajuela is home to the San Jose International Airport and the provinces are right next to each other.
There are confirmed coronavirus cases in all seven provinces in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica has a population of roughly 5.09 million.
Measures Costa Rica Has Taken Against Coronavirus
- On March 9, 2020, Costa Rica suspended all large gatherings and started encouraging working from home.
- On March 18, 2020, Costa Rica closed their borders to all foreigners, applying to land, sea and air. Only citizens and residents are allowed to enter and they must do a 14 day quarantine.
- At the same time, Costa Rica canceled all in-person school.
- Costa Rica has closed all bars. Restaurants can operate at 50% maximum with proper social distancing in place. Some supermarkets allow only 1 family member at a time and have specified shopping hours for the elderly.
- On the weekend of March 21, 2020, all beaches, national parks and public spaces closed.
- Driving restrictions were put in place beginning of April. As of now, driving is restricted after 7 PM and to the last digit of your license plate. On weekends, driving is allowed to the supermarket and pharmacy only. (Essential workers exempt from driving restrictions if they have a letter from their employer). If caught driving after 7 PM, a ticket is issued, demerits are written on your record and license plates are removed.
- There is no lock down or mandatory quarantine, people can still go outside as they please with proper social distancing.
- The government gives a press conferences at noon everyday with the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, reporting new number of cases and giving new information about COVID-19. The president, Carlos Alvarado sometimes joins when he announces major news and regulations (like border closing, etc.).
April 27, 2020 Update
Due to the decrease of cases the past ten days, the government will start easing some restrictions starting on May 1. Movie theaters, gyms, swim schools and non-contact sport facilities can re-open, given proper social distancing measures are implemented and at 25% of normal capacity from 5 AM to 7 PM during the week. Driving restrictions are still the same.
Parking lots and bike rentals may operate. Barber shops and hair salons may operate at 50% capacity as well as auto-repair shops.
The government will give a new update every 15 days regarding restrictions.
Beaches, national parks and public spaces are still closed.
Where to Get Information About Coronavirus in Costa Rica
Please check the Ministerio de Salud’s (ministry of health) website for the latest up to date information about coronavirus in Costa Rica. For news, check Teletica, the main local news channel in Costa Rica. Both in Spanish, so if you need to, you can use Google Translate. All information I have gathered on this blog post is straight from the Ministry of Health’s website.
Please only use these credible sites for information (I know it’s a little ironic since I’m writing a blog post about it but we only check these two sites and we watch the press conference everyday). The Ministerio de Salud and Teletica also post constantly on their Facebook page and do live videos of their press conferences.
When Will Costa Rica Open Their Borders?
Right now, the border is set to open May 16, 2020. This is subject to change and I’ll update if there are any changes.
If you plan to travel to Costa Rica when the border is open again, please take the recommendations of your home country seriously. Please also follow the regulations of Costa Rica if they put any into place. Also check with your airline about your flight status if you already have purchased tickets.
Do You Need to Wear a Mask in Costa Rica?
No, it is not mandatory to wear a mask in Costa Rica. The government is recommending masks only for essential workers, those who are vulnerable (elderly, immuno-compromised) and those who have respiratory symptoms.
Costa Rica Has Taken the Coronavirus Situation Seriously
- Since the first confirmed case, the government began playing informative ads on TV for proper social distancing and public hygiene practices. They also play short pieces to boost moral (#estopasara).
- Costa Rica has implemented a 24/7 coronavirus hot line
- Costa Rica created a hospital specifically for COVID-19 patients
- The CAJA (Costa Rica’s social security system) has done majority of the testing. They will also provide treatment to uninsured Costa Ricans and foreigners.
Is Costa Rica Flattening the Curve?
In the last ten days, nine of those days has seen an increase of single digit cases in Costa Rica and more people have recovered than contracted COVID-19. Looking at this graph, Costa Rica has flattened the curve so far, preventing the overwhelming of the health care system in the country since the virus entered the country. However, the government is still taking COVID-19 very seriously despite the decrease of confirmed cases as they prepare for a second or even third wave. It is like “walking on eggshells” and “we cannot let our guard down” says the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas.
Let’s All Do Our Part to Stay Safe and Healthy
Wherever you are in the world, let’s all do our part to stay safe and healthy. We hope to see you in Costa Rica when travel reopens and the world has healed itself.