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Covid-19 Spreads Across Agricultural Plantations in Northern Costa Rica

12.6.2020

The second pandemic wave has hit farm workers in the northern zone, accustomed to constantly moving in search of work through border towns.

The actions of various state institutions are concentrated in that area of the national territory, where the orange alert which seeks to contain the advance of covid-19 among those populations (considered among the most vulnerable to the new coronavirus) was expanded on June 7th.

Dr. Guiselle Guzmán Saborío, head of the Collective Health Area, of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS), has been coordinating field work in the northern area since last week.

Indicating that the situation is forcing them to consider the use of shelters to accommodate those who do not have the necessary conditions in their homes to meet the recommended minimum isolation of 14 days, confirmed the director of Health Surveillance, of the Ministry of Health, Rodrigo Marín Rodríguez.

In Costa Rica, on June 8th, 24 new cases of the coronavirus were registered making a cumulative total of 1,342 since March.

Agriculture Minister Renato Alvarado confirmed the complexity of the situation there, adding that plantations that do not take the necessary measures "will be closed."

“The CCSS has been working with the owners or managers of the farms to apply the established protocols for distancing in the field, use of face masks, hand washing and disinfection processes. Unfortunately, they are not infallible processes, no matter how much the protocols are followed, there is always the possibility that someone is sick and generates sources of contamination,” acknowledged Alvarado, who supports the warning made by the Minister of Health to issue orders and eventual closings to entrepreneurs who do not comply.

The Minister of Agriculture said that basic services such as the transportation of workers are being reviewed to guarantee safety in the transfer to the farms, on buses where physical distancing orders are observed.

To contain the advance of the pandemic in that area, technical teams seek to have clear information about the sources of contagion and the history of the movement of people, to create a sanitary fence.

The Chamber of Exporters of Costa Rica (Cadexco), through its president, Laura Bonilla, did not hide its concern about the increase in the transit of undocumented migrants from Nicaragua, which is being greatly affected by covid-19.

Abel Chaves, president of the National Chamber of Pineapple Producers and Exporters, explained that the protocols are being strengthened. He added that some companies have even suspended visits from third parties, such as suppliers and agents.

Cadexco data reveals that the Huetar Norte region is the third region in national exports: in 2019, the Chamber reported that the 228 products that left these cantons to 79 countries in the world added up to US$ 1,053 million of the total exportable supply from the country.

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