Costa Rica has ordered the closure of non-essential businesses in the center of the country including the capital San Jose in response to a sudden increase in new cases of COVID-19.
The shutdown order will remain in place until May 9. Department stores, bars, restaurants, beauty salons, and gyms are among those that will be closed.
According to local media sources, around 45 municipalities in central Costa Rica have turned out to be the hotbed of COVID-19 in recent weeks, with hospitals stretching to the limit.
The country of 5 million people has now started reporting nearly 3,000 new daily cases. Fatality rates are also said to be growing.
“We are in an unprecedented situation and many people are going to die,” reported Reuters, quoting the country’s Health Minister Daniel Salas. “There are already waiting lists to enter intensive care.”
Costa Rica’s infection rate is even higher than India and Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The Central American country has recorded nearly 300,000 cases ever since the virus broke out in March last year. It has lost more than 3,000 people to the pandemic so far.
Analysts say the new strain of the virus is more infectious than previous strains and is threatening to unleash havoc in the country.
Even though Costa Rica is trying to vaccinate people quickly, the lack of vaccine doses in the international market has left it helpless. Only 10% of its population has received at least one jab so far.