QCOSTARICA – There is the possibility that the school year will not resume next week as the country’s national Children’s Hospital (Hospital Nacional de Niños) continues saturated with cases of respiratory infections.
The medical center blames partly the elimination of sanitary measures against Covid-19, such as mandatory hand washing, social distancing, and the use of masks in all public areas.
By curbing health guidelines abruptly, Costa Ricans were exposed overnight to a large number of viral agents that usually begin their circulation in the rainy season, acknowledged Carlos Jiménez, deputy director of the Children’s Hospital.
“The abrupt suspension of protection measures caused children and adults, in general, to be suddenly exposed to a large number of viral agents that partly explain the current phenomenon (…) Our bodies were not exposed for a long time thanks to the use of the mask and other measures against viruses, we are therefore more vulnerable. I think that the use of masks should be resumed in closed and public spaces, including schools, because otherwise, we will continue with this problem because the viruses are there,” Jiménez told La Republica.
The doctor also recommended hand washing and social distancing, to prevent new infections and, of course, to get fully vaccinated.
According to data from the medical center, the number of children hospitalized, as of Wednesday, for severe acute respiratory infections is 105, of which 20 children are in critical care beds.
Since the beginning of the respiratory peak, ten children have died from severe acute respiratory infections.
The words Jiménez were ratified by other private specialists.
“The less contact there is between children, the better. It is proven that strict sanitary measures help ensure that there is not a single case of influenza or other respiratory problems, therefore, the use of masks, hand washing, maintaining distance and applying the protocol for coughing and sneezing will continue to be part of the measures that must be maintained to avoid respiratory diseases,” said medical researcher Roberto Salvatierra.
On the other hand, the Minister of Health, Joselyn Chacón, once again ruled out the government’s responsibility in this matter; regardless that one of Rodrigo Chaves’ first actions as president on May 8, the day he took office, was to eliminate the use of masks and social distancing.
The Health Minister asserted that the measure to suspend the school year, called a ‘rainy recess’ was taken by a group of professionals and she did not rule out that this situation extends to another week.
Tuesday night, the government signed a decree to enable teleworking (working from home) for central government officials who have minors in their care.
Another aspect that is influencing the saturation of the Children’s Hospital is related to the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is a virus that in most children and adults produces normal flu; however, there is a small proportion who develop serious respiratory infections and end up in a hospital and require an ICU.
To prevent further infection by respiratory viruses, experts recommend vaccination as the number one measure.
Here are some of the tips:
- Keep the vaccination schedule up to date against Covid-19 and influenza
- Parents must keep children under three months in their homes and avoid breaking the family bubble
- Maintain breastfeeding
- Implement handwashing with soap and water
- Apply proper protection in case of cough or sneeze
- Avoid smoking in the presence of children