Rico’s Covid-19 Digest – Without the usual fervor, one could even say “aguevado”, the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, announced that 21 new cases of the coronavirus were registered over the day before.
The Minister’s tone was one of disappointment, mixed with frustration, appeared almost like having given up on his ‘preaching’. What came to my mind was he must be thinking, I told them this would happen if they weren’t careful.
“We cannot undo what we achieved during Semana Santa,” expressed Salas. “We had several weeks of not having such a substantial increase, the figure of 21 has to make us react in the way we have to behave as a society in the midst of a pandemic.”
The number is very disappointing, The daily increase in cases for the past few weeks has been, for the most part, in the single digits.
In fact, it is the highest number since April 9, when 37 new cases were registered. Since then, the largest increase had been 16.
In March, there were daily increases of 32 new infections on two consecutive days, on the 27th and 28th.
“I know that many people, since they have not seen it (the virus), do not perceive it as a real threat, but it is totally real. (…) It is a virus that manages to prostrate the health services, close society, paralyzes the economy,” he added.
One of the successes of Costa Rica’s battle against the coronavirus has been testing and contact tracing; identifying the infected and their contacts, to isolate or quarantine them.
“This has been one of the successes of the strategy and the follow-up that Costa Rica has given to the evolution of the pandemic. We have been able to identify and follow-up cases in a timely manner, but we are at risk of failing if many cases arise, they will not have that order, they will not have confinement,” he explained.
He cited the case of a person who left his bubble to visit a family member outside the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) and infected two nephews.
“If we are going to have an eventual contact, it has to be far away, but not in violation of social bubbles. We cannot come and cause outbreaks of infection, if we start doing that, it can complicate it a lot,” he recalled.
Last week, Salas had already expressed his concern, because after weeks with low numbers in the registry of infections, the number rose significantly.
The increase coincides with the first phase of the reopening of the economy and relaxed measures that went into effect May 16.
The question now, how do we move forward. As detailed in the re-opening chronogram laid out two weeks ago, to move to phase 2 there would have to be good numbers.
Up to the last 24 hours the numbers have not been great, a rise as expected. For example, in the seven-day period between April 24 and 30 there were 34 cases, while in the last seven days from May 19 to 25, the increase is 85.
What happens in the coming days, which is not very promising, and if I read Salas right and that of the president of Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), Dr. Roman Macaya, whose tone was also lower than usual, I fear we are not going to see what we are all expecting.
Salas warned that the terrain remains “fragile”.
It’s not a game
The third person at the podium on Monday was the Minister of Security, Michael Soto, who spoke about the continuing efforts of all the police forces in this national emergency.
Soto strongly criticized the behavior of large numbers of people who failed to comply with sanitary measures this weekend.
“If you are irresponsible with your health, do not be irresponsible with the health of your family and the people around you. Unfortunately, we had many incidents, this is serious, you are playing with your health and that of your family,” Soto said vehemently.
Soto spent several minutes highlighting some of the irresponsibilities occurring over the weekend: of bars, restaurants, casinos opening without permits; home or ‘finca’ parties with large number of people grouped together, almost 3,000 calls for that alone; drivers disrespecting the vehicular restrictions; and the case of a group of 15 people (five adults and their minor children) that had to be rescued from a river in Cartago, a situation that had their life in the balance.
“It’s not a game,” added Soto.