QCOSTARICA – The pandemic wave driven by the omicron variant is not only the one that has risen the fastest, but also the one that has accumulated the most reported cases.
In the first month of 2022 alone, 122,317 covid-19 infections were registered, which is equivalent to one in six since the pandemic began.
In other words, 17.26% of the 701,471 infections registered by the Ministry of Health since March 6, 2020, were accumulated in January 2022 alone. Apart from the official number of infections, there is an undetermined number in people asymptomatic or who, as they experienced mild symptoms, did not get tested.
Data from the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) also reveal that in January 106,977 disabilities were issued to 81,327 people, for a total of 380,969 days of disability. That is more than double the monthly average during 2021, where each month had an average of about 45,000 disabilities. It must be considered that there is an unknown number of informal workers affected also, who, being uninsured, do not qualify for disability.
However, there is no way to determine the impact at the level of issued health orders. Through the press office, the Ministry of Health admitted that they do not keep centralized data on these documents and they are managed through the 82 governing areas.
This omicron effect does not only happen in Costa Rica. This Tuesday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director of the World Health Organization (WHO) pointed out that since the identification of the variant, 90 million cases have been reported around the world, a figure higher than seen throughout 2020.
Hospitalizations, although they have increased, have not at the same rate, something that coincides with what has been seen in other countries. The deaths, 85 last week alone, keep the lethality (percentage of deaths with the virus) at 1.09%, a number lower than that seen at other times of the health crisis, when it reached 1.26% (time in which, because there were fewer cases, the number of deaths was much lower).
For epidemiologist Juan José Romero, this is expected according to the behavior that the omicron variant has shown in other regions.
“We had already observed in other countries that the magnitude was much greater. It took fewer weeks to get to the top of the wave, but that top was 2.5 to three times higher than the previous one,” he stated.
The specialist indicated that, although ómicron was registered in the second half of December, it is possible that it had arrived even before.
What will be the impact of this variant in the coming months? Doctor and epidemiologist Ronald Evans of the Universidad Hispanoamericana (UH) said on Friday that the peak of this new wave in the country could be within two or three weeks.
“In effect, it can be seen that during the initial three weeks it kept increasing, but in the last two, it happens that, on the contrary, the force of ascent is losing momentum. If this trend continues, in two or three weeks it is possible that the curve will start to go down,” he stated.
“We would expect the descent to come quickly, just as the ascent has been fast,” he added.
However, the specialist recalls that at this time we are still at an ascending rate and that is why we must take care of ourselves rigorously: “vaccination, mask and ventilation, these three things we must keep in mind to deal with this variant and any other”.