Monday 28 November 2022

Covid-19 contagion rate in Costa Rica remains low at 0.95

A report from the Universidad Hispanoamericana warns that measures to avoid contagion should be maintained as long as 80% of the vaccinated population is not reached

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QCOSTARICA – The contagion rate of covid-19 in Costa Rica maintains a slight downward trend, according to the weekly analysis carried out by the Universidad Hispanoamericana (UH).

Downtown San Jose. Photo archive

The indicator, also called the “R rate”, which indicates the speed of transmission, is 0.95. This means that, if you take a group of 100 carriers of the virus, they would transmit the infection to 95 more people.

When this indicator is below 1, it means that the virus reaches fewer people. This is the ninth consecutive week where it is below 1.

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A week ago, it was 0.97. Today, the situation is slightly more favorable, although, with such a contagious virus and very few of the population with the complete vaccination scheme (15.9%), it could easily reverse.

Ronald Evans, physician and epidemiologist coordinating the analysis, warns that if the sanitary measures – wearing a mask, washing hands and distancing – are relaxed, the reality could change in a short time.

“In our case, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes the disease) has retreated for nine consecutive weeks, but it retains all its infectious strength, which can be unleashed at any time,” he said.

“In Europe, a new wave is being presented caused by the delta variant, despite the high percentages of the population that have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. This has forced in many places, to reactivate several of the mitigation measures, which had been lifted previously,” he added.

For this reason, he warns the document, in Costa Rica, we cannot neglect ourselves until we reach (at least) 80% of the vaccinated population.

R rate varies by province

Since R is a value that depends on human dynamics, it is not the same throughout the country. Each province has its own transmission characteristics.

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Guanacaste, after a week with the lowest rate in the country, returned to being the highest. This shows how volatile this indicator is. This week the analysis places it at 1.07.

Heredia also has an indicator greater than 1, with 1.04.

San José follows, with 0.99; Limon, with 0.96; Alajuela, with 0.94; and Cartago, with 0.92.

The province with the lowest index is Puntarenas, with 0.73.

Concern in Esparza and the border area with Nicaragua

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The analysis by cantons focuses on reviewing the risk in the number of covid-19 cases, according to the population of each one.

This is also done because the calculation of the contagion rate is not feasible in places with less than 25,000 inhabitants.

It is considered a high-risk category when there are more than 250 cases per million inhabitants.

In this list there are 30 cantons (36.58% of the total).

There are four cantons of particular concern to analysts.

“Esparza with an incidence rate of 904.1 and a contagion rate of 1.32, well above the national average. So far in 2021, it is the first time that this canton heads this list, ”the document cites.

The other three cantons are La Cruz, in Guanacaste, with a rate of 652.6 per million inhabitants and an R of 1.17; Crowned with an incidence of 650 and R of 1.29; and Los Chiles, whose rate is 580.7 per million and the R of 1.31.

The researchers are struck by the fact that two of these cantons border Nicaragua.

“We do not know if there is an outbreak in Nicaragua that had something to do with the location of these border cantons, since rather the numbers of cases declared by that country are among the lowest in Latin America,” Evans stressed.

On the contrary, there are seven cantons (8.54% of the total) where the number of cases is very low, less than 100 per million inhabitants.

These are Pérez Zeledón, Tarrazú, Turrubares and Dota in San José; Orotina, in Alajuela; Talamanca, in Limón; and Sarapiquí, in Heredia.

Number of national cases decreasing

Last week, the average number of daily cases was 1,290, analysts indicate that this means a reduction of 116 cases in relation to the average of the previous week (1,406), in percentage terms, it is 8.3%.

“Only Heredia and Guanacaste increased the average number of daily cases, while in the other five provinces there was a decrease,” says the document.

If seen in rates per million inhabitants, it went from 272.3 to 249.9 (8.2% less).

This is especially important since the threshold of 250 per million inhabitants has already been slightly lowered.

The rate in Puntarenas was the one that decreased the most: 31.8%, from 342.8 to 233.8.

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