The performance of a Roman Catholic priest singing and dancing to convince his congregation and the rest of Costa Rica to follow COVID-19 rules has gone viral. The priest's rendition of a popular 1990s salsa tune, which he changed to contain a more health-focused message, is now winning fans from around the world.
Over the past week, Sergio Valverde has been performing his sing and dance routine at the front of Cristo Rey church south of San Jose. Valverde said the purpose of his performance is to convince people to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing.
"Without the mask, there's COVID for you, COVID for me," the chorus of the reworked lyrics to the song "Sopa de Caracol" says.
Valverde said he didn't intentionally write down the reworked lyrics and was merely improvising when he first sang it. He said he was surprised that the video of him performing the song went viral on social media.
"The issue of COVID is affecting the entire world, there's pain, there's suffering. I, as a priest, see so many people suffering, sick, in pain, people without work and who are dying of hunger and I wanted to help a little," Valverde said.
Due to the popularity of his church performance, the composer of the original song, Honduran Pilo Tejeda, has offered to record Valverde's new version. The song, which translates to "Snail Soup," was originally composed by Belizean Hernán "Chico" Ramos. It was later adapted and performed by Honduran's group Banda Blanca.
The popularity of Valverde's version of the song comes as Costa Rica is seeing a renewed surge in coronavirus infections. Daily infections in the country surged to more than 2,700 last week - a new record. According to officials, the country's healthcare system is barely able to handle the rate of new infections and its ICUs are now at 95% capacity.
On Monday, the Costa Rican government imposed new pandemic restrictions and forced nonessential businesses to temporarily shut down. Travel and movement have also been limited by select curfews.