QCOSTARICA – Are we in Costa Rica facing a new wave of covid-19 infections? Could be, says Juan José Romero, epidemiologist from the Universidad Nacional (UNA) – National University of Costa rica
The small decrease in cases in the last week and the increase in deaths and hospitalizations could be the signs, explained the epidemiologist, who added that it is urgent that we all become aware of the danger posed by the delta variant of the coronavirus, which is already circulating in the country and is as contagious as chickenpox (varicela in Spanish).
The data that the Ministry of Health published this Tuesday are revealing: In epidemiological week 30 (from July 25 to 31), 8,449 cases of covid-19 were detected, while in week 29 (from July 18 to 24) there were 8,684 (235 fewer in the most recent week).
As for deaths, the figures reveal that in epidemiological week 29 there were 69, while in week 30 there were 93.
On average there were 13 people who lost their lives due to the virus in the past week, compared to less than 10 the week prior.
As to hospitalizations, on Thursday the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), reported 851 people in hospital, of which 380 are in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), both numbers above the capacity of the Caja to provide optimal care.
“The issue of infections is not so reliable, many people who have the disease stay at home risking it even if it is not ideal, that can give a false feeling that there are fewer infections when in reality it is not such,” explained the expert.
“Deaths and hospitalizations are real and objective numbers and the fact that they have increased gives a very clear signal that things are not going well. This data tells us that we could be on the verge of a new covid-19 outbreak, ″ said the specialist.
Romero reminds us that the delta variant is more “discreet” than the previous ones and that the most common symptoms – headaches, sore throats, body aches and joints – can be mistaken for the onset of the flu.
“At this point in the pandemic, people cannot risk the chance of feeling these symptoms and stay at home thinking that it can be treated with acetaminophen. The best thing is that you go to the Ebáis clinic that corresponds to you or the hospital and say that you have symptoms of covid, especially if they know that you had exposure or contact with someone infected,” recommends the epidemiologist.
“You have to take into account that with this variant the step from being fine to getting worse is much faster, so you don’t have to be strong, if people start to have a stupid cough or they start to feel short of breath, they should run to a medical center because if you wait you may not get there in time (to treat it). That could be one of the reasons more people are dying,” he said.
The expert says that it is essential, now more than ever, to apply the sanitary protocols of handwashing, the use of a mask, and maintain social distancing between bubbles and reminds us that the delta variant is causing very great damage in countries such as France, Spain, England, and the United States, where they already thought they were on the way out of the pandemic, which in the world has caused more than 4 million deaths.
And not to mention China, where millions of people have been confined again and are doing massive tests because of the same strain.
“We must bear in mind that delta is causing outbreaks in countries where a large part of the population already has two doses of the vaccine. Now, in countries like Spain, it is said that about 85 or 90 of every 100 hospitalized people have not been vaccinated, which means that those who already have been vaccinated run a lower risk of becoming seriously ill if they become infected with the virus,” explained Romero.
In the case of China, what has been reported is that, apparently, the fact that already vaccinated people have been infected would reveal that the vaccine produced by that country is not as effective as the others.
Herd immunity is urgent
The best thing we can all do – in addition to not lowering our guard – is to find a way to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity as soon as possible.
This Tuesday the CCSS reported through a statement that so far 3,424,278 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been applied, of which 2,573,189 (49.84% of the population) have received the first dose and 851,089 people (16.48% of the population) already have the complete scheme with two doses.
In the fight against the virus, it is also essential to put aside the false feeling that by having received a vaccine you are already immune, since not even with both you are safe from the virus.
“We must be responsible with ourselves and with our families, if so far we are not complying with the protocols as it should be, it is time to do so, the pandemic is not over,” says Romero.
In Costa Rica, there are already 5,108 families mourning the death of a loved one due to the coronavirus.