First case of COVID-19 reported March 6 in San Jose, Costa Rica. Risk to public remains low. Use basic health precautions.

Severity: Informational Alert

This alert began 07 Mar 2020 09:15 GMT and is scheduled to expire 07 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
  • Location(s): San Jose (map)
  • Date: March 6
  • Impact: Increased health precautions

Summary
Government officials confirmed the first case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in San Jose, Costa Rica, March 6. The patient is a 49-yea-old US national tourist who had contact with an infected individual in New York. The patient then traveled to Costa Rica and became symptomatic once she arrived in San Jose. Authorities have quarantined her and her husband in their hotel room.

A second individual suspected of having COVID-19 is in intensive care in a medical facility in San Jose. Authorities have not yet confirmed if he has tested positive for COVID-19. The patient, a 54-year-old local national, had recently traveled to Panama.

The US national represents the first known confirmed case of the disease in Costa Rica. The risk to the wider public remains low.

Background and Analysis
Additional cases may be identified in the coming days and weeks as elevated disease surveillance continues. Older individuals, infants, and those with chronic illness are more susceptible to infection and are at increased risk for severe complications. Human-to-human transmission can occur, though it remains unclear how easily the virus spreads between people.

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions.

Advice
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
WHO advice for international travel

WHO coronavirus knowledge base

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