A preventive emergency has been declared in Costa Rica over the spread of Zika virus to accelerate the fight against the mosquito carrying the illness, said the presidency.
The decree, signed on February 25, 2016 by the health minister, Fernando Llorca, applies to 31 of Costa Rica's 81 administrative regions and gives authorities wider powers in terms of financing and personnel to curb mosquito populations.
The Zika virus is strongly suspected to be linked to an outbreak of birth defects in northeastern Brazil that resulted in hundreds of babies with abnormally small skulls and brains.
This week, the country reported its first two cases of locally contracted Zika, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste.
Communication Minister Mauricio Herrera said that "the situation is under control right now," but that the decree was issued to boost officials' ability "to prevent an epidemic."