Monday 6 February 2023

Covid-19 cases fall as Costa Rica conducts more tests

Incidence of the virus decreased in the last three weeks. Experts ask not to lower our guard, as the risk will remain until 70% of the population does not achieve immunity

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QCOSTARICA – While other countries suffer serious increases in their rates of Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, Costa Rica has experienced three consecutive weeks with these indicators plummeting.

January closed with a record number of Covid-19 tests carried out in Costa Rica: 97,856

During these weeks, the average daily cases fell by 24%.

The report of new cases, between August 1 and January 31, shows a rebound in patients that remained constant, but in the end, experienced a sudden decline.

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September was the month that had the highest number of confirmed cases with 34,473, while January closed with the lowest, with 24,959.

This drop in cases comes at a time when more testing is being done.

In the last six months, 60% more tests were carried out and January was the month in which the highest number, with 97,856 tests.

“We hope that this trend will continue like this for much longer, but it cannot be predicted with a good margin of certainty, if we are on the way to flattening the curve,” said Ronald Evans, epidemiologist and researcher at the School of Medicine of the Universidad Hispanoamericana.

An increase in tests performed

In January, Costa Rica broke the record for Covid-19 tests conducted.

  • August 2020:  61,245 tests, 23,467 new cases
  • September 2020: 79,072 tests, 34,473 new cases
  • October 2020: 85,356 tests, 34,211 new cases
  • November 2020: 82,777 tests, 29,667  new cases
  • December 2020: 29,683 tests, 96,165 new cases
  • January 2020: 97,856 tests, 24,959 new cases

Despite the encouraging data, it is not yet possible to conclude that the curve is flattening.

“The ‘downturn’ has been practically brutal, unexpected. We hope that this trend will continue like this for much longer, but it cannot be predicted with a good margin of certainty if we are on the way to flattening the curve,” said Ronald Evans, epidemiologist and head of research at the Universidad Hispanoamericana School of Medicine.

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The trend of recent weeks is a sample of the different waves in which the pandemic is taking place, so the expert warns that the risk will remain until 70% of the population does not achieve immunity, either due to natural infection or by vaccination.

A challenge that the country will have to face so that this decline continues will be on Monday when schools reopen.

“If all the protocols are met and the blended or mixed classes continue, there would be no rebound in Covid-19 cases in schools, both primary and high schools,” predicts Juan José Romero, coordinator of the Master’s Degree in Epidemiology at the Universidad Nacional (UNA).

In addition, global studies confirm that infections in homes are mainly caused by adults who leave home for work or business and then return and not necessarily by minors who attend educational centers.

The 2021 school year will start on February 8
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“As children and young people are the least ill from Covid-19, it is likely that the infections registered by diagnoses in health centers will not increase substantially on account of minors; but by contagion from the adults in their household,” said Romero.

This is why, given the lack of herd immunity, the mitigation protocols should continue to be applied for a time perhaps longer than expected.

Three weeks on the downtrend

For the past three weeks, Costa Rica has seen a down trend of new cases of Covid-19.

  • January 24-30: The average number of daily cases was 515 (122 patients less than the previous week), which represents a decrease of 23.7%. The incidence rate* was 100.5 cases per million inhabitants.
  • January 17-23: The average number of daily cases 657 (241 less than the previous week) representing a decrease of 36.6%. The Incidence rate 128.2 cases per million inhabitants.
  • From January 10 to 16: The average daily cases 898 (142 cases less than the previous one) which represents a decrease of 16%. The incidence rate 175.2 cases per million inhabitants.

* In epidemiology, the incidence rate is a measure of the probability of occurrence of a given medical condition in a population within a specified period of time. Although sometimes loosely expressed simply as the number of new cases during some time period, it is better expressed as a proportion or a rate with a denominator.

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