Saturday 1 April 2023

Covid-19 contagion rate in Costa Rica reaches its lowest level since the end of April

Analysis of the Hispano-American University and the Central American Population Center (CCP) place it with the same value: 0.81, specialists insist that it is good news, but it is not to claim victory.

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31 March 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – The contagion rate or R rate registered a new decrease that takes it to the lowest levels in the last nine months. However, it is not the time to lower our guard, as this indicator is very volatile and may rise again.

Both the analysis of the Universidad Hispanoamericana (UH) and that of the Centro Centroamericano de Población de la Universidad de Costa Rica (CCP-UCR) have a rate of 0.81.

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This indicates that 100 people carrying the Covid-19 virus would infect or give rise to 81 new cases.

According to the UH, a week ago, those 100 people would have given rise to 89 infections, two ago, 112, and three weeks ago, 106.

This week’s is the lowest number shown by the HU analysis since it began plotting it in October.

In the CCP analysis, it is the lowest since April 26.

“It is still too early to ensure that this will be the dominant trend in the coming days and less appropriate to throw the bells to the wind in a sign of victory. We must be very prudent and do everything possible to continue taking care of ourselves as the pandemic at its peak, until we wait for the vaccinated population to reach an optimal percentage,” warned Ronald Evans, coordinator of the Research Unit of the School of Medicine of the Universidad Hispanoamericana.

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In the CCP-UCR index, our country not only shows the decrease, it is also the second with the lowest contagion rate in Central America, only surpassed by Panama, with 0.73.

Why? Luis Rosero Bixby, coordinator of the CCP-UCR analysis, indicates that it is not so easy to determine reasons, but there are hypotheses.

“It is not clear why, now, in January, the reproduction rate of the pandemic has dropped decisively.”

Rosero points out three possible reasons:

  1. The vehicular restrictions and crowding in bars and the like ordered from January 1.
  2. The drop in economic and social activities that are usually seen in the country in the so-called “cuesta de enero” (January slope) in which many families have economic restrictions that force them to stay at home while others go on vacation.
  3. The very dynamics of the epidemic outbreak reduces the pool of people susceptible to infection because many have been immunized by having already had the virus.

By province

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While the 0.81 is an average nationally, the contagion rate is not the same throughout the country.

However, the UH analysis shows that, for the first time since this study began, all seven provinces are below 1.

The highest rates are on the coasts: the highest is in Limón, with 0.93; it is followed by Puntarenas with 0.83, and Guanacaste with 0.81.

In Alajuela, the rate is 0.80; in San José, it 0.78; and im Heredia, its 0.77.

The province with the lowest R rate is Cartago, with 0.73.

The possible scenarios

The CCP-UCR outlines three possible scenarios: an optimistic one in which the R rate falls further; a neutral one, in which the rate R is maintained; and a pessimistic one, in which the rate rises again.

  • Optimistic scenario. I, in the best of cases, the R rate continues its fall and reaches 0.7 within a month, the incidence of covid-19 would be reduced to 300 cases per day.
  • Neutral stage. This is the most likely. If the R rate stagnates or continues to fluctuate between 0.8 and 0.85, within a month Costa Rica will be reporting 400 cases a day.In this scenario, fewer than 300 are expected to be hospitalized, with 120 of them in intensive care. It is also estimated that the number of monthly deaths will decrease to 300, instead of 450 currently.
  • Pessimistic scenario. In this situation, the R would rise to 1, but since these weeks there has been a respite, about 600 cases per day would be seen and not 800 like those in the middle of this month.

The current situation

In the 7 days between January 21 and January 27, there were 3,589 new cases, for an average of 512 daily, the lowest day with only 355 cases (a number that had not been seen since July) was on January 25.

The accumulated number of cases on January 27 reached 192,066.

The new number of people recovered went from 145,724 on January 21 to 150,748 or 78.5% on the 27th.

The number of deaths for the week was 78, an average of 11, for an accumulated total of 2,584.

The day with the single-digit deaths, 9, was on January 26.

Perhaps, the most significant of all the numbers are the hospitalizations. The concern of overextended medical services and lack of hospital beds did not occur as expected.

In fact, the number of people in hospital has greatly reduced, on Wednesday, January 27, the Ministry of Health reported 466 people in hospital, of which 166 were in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Covid-19 across Central America

The reported cases and deaths across Central America:

  • Guatemala: 156,456 cases; 5,513 deaths; population 18.1 Million
  • Honduras: 144,007 cases; 3,512 deaths; population 9.9 Million
  • El Salvador: 53,989 cases; 1,599 deaths; population 6.5 Million
  • Belize: 11,816 cases; 294 deaths; population 401,000
  • Nicaragua*: 6,253 cases; 169 deaths; population 6.6 Million
  • Costa Rica: 192,066 cases; 2,584 deaths; population 5.1 Million
  • Panama: 315,400 cases; 5,176 deaths; population 4.3 Million

* Figures for Nicaragua are official reported by the Ministry of Health (MINSA). They have been proven to be unreliable, seldom updated. The most probable figures are provided by the non-governmental agency, Observatorio Cuidadano, estimated to be up to 10 times the official figures.


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