June 20, 2020 / 2:15 AM / 20 days ago

Costa Rica halts reopening as coronavirus infections rise

A trucker sleeps in a hammock tied under a truck trailer at the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, after Nicaragua's government closed the border for freight traffic, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Penas Blancas, Costa Rica May 21, 2020. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

SAN JOSE (Reuters) - Costa Rica’s government will halt reopening the country’s economy due to an increase in the number of coronavirus cases over recent days, a senior official said on Friday, in a blow to the Central American nation which has already lost 100,000 jobs.

“These are not numbers to think that nothing is wrong and that we can continue with the reopening,” Health Minister Daniel Salas said during a news conference.

Over the last 24 hours, Costa Rica has registered a record 119 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,058. Twelve people have died from the highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the virus.

“Stores and shopping malls, beaches, churches and other activities will have to wait until we have a sustained decrease in cases,” Salas said. The national soccer league is also suspended “until further notice,” he added.

Costa Rica’s tourism chamber has pressured the government to open the country’s borders, which are closed until June 30.

Government data shows the jobless rate reached 15.7% in the February to April period, as 100,000 jobs were lost. The central bank forecasts gross domestic product could contract by 3.6% in 2020.

Reporting by Alvaro Murillo; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Leslie Adler

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