QCOSTARICA – The rate or speed of contagion, also called the R rate, of covid-19 in Costa Rica this last week registered its highest value in the last five.
The analysis carried out by the Universidad Hispanoamericana (UH) indicates that, after five weeks of being at levels between 0.94 and 0.97, the rate rose to 1.06.
Over at the Universidad de Costa Rica Centro Centroamericano de Poblacion (CCP-UCR), the rate this week is 1.08.
“This important increase is equivalent to 12.7%,” the report states.
The contagion rate indicates how many people could infect, on average, each carrier of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes covid-19.
If it is equal to 1, each person will infect, on average, another, and this will keep the transmission constant. If it is at 2, on average each person will infect two more and the transmission speed will double.
Ideally, therefore, this figure should be less than 1, which is a sign that the rate of new cases is decreasing. If the index is higher than 1, the evolution of the disease will spread faster.
An index of 1.06 means that an individual with the virus could transmit it to 1.06 people on average. Or, viewed another way, 100 people who carry this pathogen could give rise to a generation of 106 cases, or a thousand people to 1060 cases.
“Since several weeks ago a downward trend in the epidemic curve began, it was warned that it could be driven by some sharp ups and downs, and even the appearance of plateaus for a certain time,” cites the report prepared by epidemiologists Ronald Evans, Roger Bonilla and Roberto Salvatierra.
“It was said that a linear descent would not be observed and some went further, warning that there was no magic sphere to predict what could happen,” the document adds.
However, there is something to consider: R is a very volatile factor and can change in a short time. This index does not have to do with the number of cases, but with the speed of transmission or the speed with which the virus spreads.
Nor does it measure how aggressive it is, but how its movement and evolution is in a certain place.
Although the disease does not have the same behavior in each province of the country, this week an increase in the speed of transmission was seen in all of them, except in Limón.
The province with the highest rate is Puntarenas, with 1.2. A week ago it was 0.97.
The second province with the highest transmission speed is Cartago, with 1.19. This is the province that registers the greatest increase. A week ago it was at 0.77, the lowest.
Other provinces have fewer variants, such as Heredia (went from 0.94 to 1.07), Guanacaste (from 1.05 to 1.07), San José (from 0.9 to 1.05) and Alajuela (from 0.93 to 1.02).
Finally, the only province that rate fell is in Limón, which has the lowest rate in the entire country and the only one below 1. The Caribbean province went from 1.11 to 0.9.
The researchers found cantons where transmission is much higher, but that is not the only variable that must be followed. A high R will have more impact in a place where there is a high prevalence of cases, depending on the population, because there are more people who could transmit the virus.
The 13 high-risk or red category cantons are in five provinces: Alajuela, Heredia, Guanacaste, Puntarenas and Limón.
- In Alajuela province: Poás, Orotina, Zarcero and San Carlos.
- In Heredia province: Belén and Sarapiquí.
- In Guanacaste province: Nandayure and Liberia.
- In Puntarenas province: Garabito, Montes de Oro, Esparza and Puntarenas.
- In Limon province: Limon center.
However, the researchers emphasize that all people should take equal care of themselves, no matter where they live or work.
“What remains for all of us is physical distancing measures, especially now that people are tired and exhausted. We must not contribute to the rupture of the social bubble taking place and being replaced by an ‘extended bubble’, because then we are going to have a hospital collapse,” the analysis concludes.