QCOSTARICA – Three new cases of the omicron variant in the country were confirmed with the genomic analysis carried out by the Instituto Costarricense de Investigación y Enseñanza en Nutrición y Salud (Inciensa) – Costa Rican Institute for Research and Teaching in Nutrition and Health, the Ministry of Health reported this Friday.
With these, there are four identified by analysis of the coronavirus genome.
The three new cases are that of a foreigner with a history of a trip to Africa, and two Costa Ricans, who were in the United States and Europe.
“All the people are stable and have not required hospitalization. We are working on the epidemiological investigation of the cases and their contacts,” informed the Minister of Health, Dr. Daniel Salas.
It was first believed that three cases were related to the 8-year-old boy, however, Salas clarified that these three new cases are not related.
The minor, the first confirmed case of the Omicron variant in Costa Rica, reported on December 19, presented fever, body aches and general discomfort after a trip to the United States, but remained stable and in isolation in his home in San José.
In addition, of these four cases confirmed by genomic surveillance of Inciensa, there are three more that require laboratory analysis to be confirmed. They are a minor and two adults, who last December 20 ended their isolation.
The appearance of people infected with the new variant of the coronavirus will not bring changes in the measures in force at this time, the Government clarified. However, Health authorities reiterate the call to the population to maintain compliance with all health measures, especially in these festivities at the end and beginning of the year.
Authorities recommend that in case of having a get-together, people should be in ventilated areas or outdoors, make correct use of the mask and, in addition, wash their hands and complete the vaccination schedules against covid-19.
They also reiterated the call for adults over 65 to get the third dose, which is already available in various vaccination centers in the country.
These cases come at a time when the country experienced a substantial drop in the total number of cases, since October.
The reduction also triggered a de-escalation plan in the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), including the closing of the specialized covid-19 hospital, the CEACO, to resume non-covid services postponed in the first pandemic months, and to relax restriction measures to activate the economy.
The new mutation of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes covid-19, was first reported by South Africa on November 24. Since then, it has spread with enormous rapidity worldwide, to the point that countries such as France, the United Kingdom and Spain broke records for daily COVID-19 infections on Thursday, December 23, due to the advance of the omicron variant.
Despite early findings that Omicron is milder than other variants, scientists are concerned by the number of cases, in Europe, Italy, Spain and Greece have made face masks compulsory outdoors again. Catalonia, in northern Spain, has imposed an overnight curfew, and the Netherlands is in a strict lockdown.
In the UK, a record close to 120,000 new COVID-19 cases were recorded on Thursday. The increase in seven days is 50% and the number of hospital admissions begins to grow, especially in London.
The expansion of omicron in Europe and the United States has affected airline crews in several countries, especially in the United States, for which reason several flights were canceled this December 24, just for the Christmas Eve holidays.
Preliminary data indicates that omicron can re-infect people more easily than previous variants, regardless of whether they previously had COVID-19 or have been vaccinated. However, it is also presumed that it could cause milder disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
One hypothesis about omicron is that the virus would have slowly mutated in the body of a person with immunodeficiency, a process that lasted several months to reach the current version, the AFP agency reported on December 17.
Scientists say that the omicron and delta variants could coexist, as with certain variants of the flu virus, or that omicron gains ground and then once again give delta an advantage.
Mutations in the omicron variant can significantly reduce the virus’s antibody immunity, AFP reported. Consequently, it can probably re-infect people who were previously affected by the virus and contaminate a significant number of those already vaccinated.
For now, a booster dose of the vaccines helps to strengthen the defenses. And in any case, the drugs are still effective, even though the antibodies they generate are only part of the immune response.