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The shelters were  authorized in schools and community centers. / National Emergency Commission courtesy photo


Published Friday, July 17, 2020

More covid-19 shelters available

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

To increase preventive measures against the contagion of covid-19 and to provide assistance in the event of other emergencies such as floods, the National Emergency Commission sanctioned another 266 shelters in the country.

According to the Commission, the shelters were  authorized in schools and community centers. Of the total number of shelters, 72 will be used exclusively for the care of 4,371 patients infected with covid-19.

The remaining 194 shelters are identified for the care of people affected by other emergencies such as floods.

"The facilities meet space conditions to maintain capacity, sanitary conditions of basic services, and security conditions to maintain distance between people according to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health," the Commission said in its statement.

The shelters are located in the cantons of Abangares, Acosta, Alajuela, Alajuelita, Aserrí, Atenas, Bagaces, Barva, Belén, Buenos Aires, Cañas, Coronado, Corredores, Coto Brus, Curridabat, Desamparados, Esparza, Goicoechea, Golfito, Grecia, Guácimo, Guatuso, La Cruz, Liberia, Limón, Los Chiles, Matina, Montes de Oca, Montes de Oro, Mora, Moravia, Nandayure, Naranjo, Orotina, Osa, Palmares, Pérez Zeledón , Poás, Pococí, Puntarenas, Quepos, Río Cuarto, San Carlos, San José, San Mateo, San Ramón, Santa Ana, Santa Bárbara, Sarapiquí, Sarchí, Siquirres, Talamanca, Turrialba, Upala and Zarcero.

According to Alexander Solís, president of the Commission, having these shelters allows the primary treatment of positive cases, as it was demonstrated in San José and San Ramón.

"Thanks to these sites (in San José and San Ramón), 73 people who were cared for in shelters managed to overcome the virus and successfully returned to their homes," Solís said.

These shelters have all the security measures to not only provide care to people with covid-19 but to prevent the spread of the virus in their communities, Solís said.

The shelters have kitchens, showers, stretchers, mattress covers, among other essential necessities for a living. Also, they have 24-hour surveillance, collection service and waste management.

According to the health authorities, covid-19 patients enter these centers when they cannot fulfill their quarantine at home for physical-sanitary and security reasons.

Therefore, community shelters are essential to ensure rapid isolation, control the spread of the virus in the community, and provide adequate patient care.

Also, specialists will make visits to patients to assess their recovery, and through tests ensure that they are no longer carriers of the virus, generating the lifting of the health order for their respective release.

People who are cared for in these temporary accommodations return to their homes once the results of their tests are negative and their sanitary order is lifted.

According to the Commission, work is being done to identify other places where shelters can be set up in the rest of the cantons to minimize the spread of the virus and keep people rooted in the place where they live.

Authorities call on the public to leave behind myths and fears and join in solidarity with this initiative that has the sole objective of saving the lives of many people.

On early Wednesday morning before daybreak mattresses and other objects were set on fire in front of an indigenous community center, a covid-19 shelter, located in Turrialba Canton in Cartago Province.

The shelter was open by the Commission  to attend people infected with covid-19 or suspected of having the virus.

A mother and her 2-month-old baby girl, both infected with covid-19, were staying inside the shelter when it was set ablaze. The small family came from an indigenous territory looking for health attention. The baby is currently hospitalized at the Children's Hospital.

There were also three indigenous people living in the same shelter, who were there in isolation as a preventive measure while they waited for the results of their covid-19 tests.

To safeguard the lives of these people, the Commission reported that they were transferred to another shelter located in the Grano de Oro community, also in the Turrialba Canton.

The Municipality of Turrialba set up two shelters to provide care for people infected with covid-19 and those suspected of being infected, the Commission said in its statement.

According to Alexander Solís, president of the Commission, what happened was regrettable. He clarifies that keeping infected people in sanitary shelters allows protection for the rest of the citizens of the canton.

"These facts mean a clear ignorance of the way of transmission of the virus, as well as a lack of solidarity and humanism. The goal of having these shelters in all the cantons of the country is to guarantee the fast isolation (of the patients) for control of the spread of the virus in the community, as well as adequate care for people with a positive covid-19 diagnosis," Solís said.

People who are attended in the shelters are those who cannot comply with the quarantine order in their homes, for safety and health reasons, the Commission said in its statement.

Two other recently opened shelters are located in downtown San José and San Ramon Canton in Alajuela Province. There are 43 people in these shelters, including children who were isolated to prevent further spread of the covid-19 contagion.

Should the authorities install a covid-19 patient shelter in your community? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to


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