COVID-19, Fact Checking

Witnessed a violation of the sanitary measures? Here’s what you can do

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The phone line 1322, 9-1-1, the Policia Municipal (Municipal Police) of each canton and the Fuerza Pública are open channels that all citizens can use to report situations related to the pandemic, however, each of them deals with specific situations.

On many Facebook pages, and throughout WhatsApp, there are messages like the following: “Call 9-1-1 and 1322 to report any behavior that puts your people at risk: parties, illegal migration, coyotes, criminal movements…”.

While the information is not incorrect, it is inaccurate and could result in saturation of the service channels.

The Ministry of Health press department recalled that the line 1322 is an informative line about COVID-19. This means that people can go to this line to clarify doubts about the symptoms of COVID-19 and receive information about possible COVID-19 cases.

If a call is considered an emergency, it will be forwarded to 9-1-1. This line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We encourage the people to use the line 1322 in a responsible manner and only for topics only related to COVID-19,” the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, explained early in March when he announced the launch of the official phone line.

Public Relations and Press Officer for 9-1-1, Gerardo Garcia, explained that anyone can use the line to report any situation “that threatens the health or lives of people.”

To give an example, Garcia said that citizens can call to report situations such as people gathering in public spaces or the transport of illegal migrants. “The call is received by the agents and then transferred to the appropriate entity,” he said.

Furthermore, he recalled that the 9-1-1 call is not to file a complaint, but a report, since no court is involved in the process.

“Also it is important to clarify that if a person calls the line 1322 to report a situation that is not an information directly for COVID-19, is not that we will not assist them, but for the caller it will be more difficult, because that call will be transferred to 9-1-1 and there the process starts again,” the press officer concluded.

You can also call 9-1-1 to report a breach of a sanitary order. Since April 4, any violation of a sanitary order or measure, or sanitary isolation (for instance, 14 days are recommended to any national or resident entering the country), will be fined a minimum base salary of a Justice Department officer, which is currently ¢450.200.

But what about the festivities?

Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, reminded in a press conference on May 19 that homes are private spaces and that healthcare authorities cannot enter them.

It is very different from public spaces like sidewalks or streets. We are not entitled to apply a fine inside a house, that is why we have appealed to conscience and responsibility,” said the minister.

In this regard, Eduardo Oporta, a member of the Policia Municipal of Santa Cruz, explained that both they and the Fuerza Pública are authorized to call attention to people on the spot, but they do not have the power to impose any kind of fine.

“We are a police prevention entity and we always try to mediate, if we are not able to reach an agreement, and depending on the circumstances of the event [a large group of people], we do ask for help from a stand-by prosecutor to tell us how to proceed,” said Oporta.

However, people can call in to report these types of activities, and both law enforcement agencies are required to respond to the report.

Likewise, the Policia Municipal and the Fuerza Pública can be called to a report about non-compliance on a sanitary order