Friday 31 March 2023

Covid-19 contagion rate in Costa Rica remains low: Have we ‘flattened’ the curve?

The Universidad Hispanoamericana indicator is at 0.84, which indicates that 100 people would infect 84, this is a slight increase from the 0.81 of a week ago; all provinces have indices below 1

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31 March 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – The contagion rate of covid-19 in Costa Rica registered a slight increase in the last week, but it remains at low levels.

The use of masks in open public places where it is not possible to keep the distance between people is one of the measures to avoid the spread of covid-19. Photo Rafael Pacheco

In the last seven days, the indicator of the Universidad Hispanoamericana (UH) went from 0.81 to 0.84. This means that 100 people would infect another of 84.

A week ago those 100 people would have infected 81. Two weeks ago they would have infected 89.

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However, this number is also considered low because the next generation of cases would be smaller than this.

Researchers remain surprised by this decline, the rate considered unexpected.

To this is added that the number of infections fell by 23.7%. In the last week, the average daily cases is 515, about 122 fewer daily compared to the previous week.

However, analysts assert that this is not the time to categorically consider that we are “flattening the curve” since infections depend on many factors and this indicator can be very volatile.

“We hope that this trend will continue like this for much longer, but it cannot be predicted with a good margin of certainty, and if we are heading towards the flattening of the curve,” warns Ronald Evans, epidemiologist and coordinator of the analysis.

“This pandemic is unfolding through different waves and as long as there are no percentages of the population greater than 70% at least that have immunity, either by natural infection or by vaccination, we will continue to be exposed to the coronavirus. We must continue to apply mitigation protocols for a time perhaps longer than expected,” he added.

What does (and what does not) the contagion rate measure?

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The contagion rate, also called the R rate, represents the speed with which this virus spreads in a place and indicates, on average, how many people each carrier of SARS-CoV-2 would infect.

It is important to note that a person without symptoms, either because they have yet not them (presymptomatic) or because they are not going to have them (asymptomatic), can transmit the infection.

If the contagion rate 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, R 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 have greater speed.

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With a rate of 1 the infection would remain constant.

If we take into account the incubation period of the virus before the appearance of symptoms, the number of infections that are reported today, occurred approximately six days ago, so this is an index that shows delays.

The R rate does not have to do with the number of cases, but rather with the transmission speed 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.

In the provinces

The contagion rate is not the same throughout the country. However, the analysis of the UH shows that, for the second consecutive week, the seven provinces are below 1.

Guanacaste continues as the province with the lowest R rate during the last seven days, with 0.73, while the province with the highest infection rate is Cartago, with 0.94.

Last week was the one with the lowest level.

For the authors of the report, this is a sign of how volatile the transmission of the virus is.

The rate in the provinces from highest to lowest.

  1. Cartago, 0.94
  2. Heredia, 0.9
  3. Limon, 0.9
  4. Puntarenas, 0.85
  5. San José, 0.81.
  6. Alajuela, 0.79
  7. Guanacaste, 0.73.

By cantons

This is the week there are, for the first 52 very low-risk cantons.

In the province of San José: Escazú, Santa Ana, Mora, Montes de Oca, Curridabat, Alajuelita, Coronado, Tibás, Moravia, Desamparados, León Cortés, Goicoechea, Puriscal, Acosta, Aserrí, Tarrazú, Turrubares, Dota.

In the province of Alajuela: San Carlos, Los Chiles, Atenas, Poás, San Ramón, Upala, San Mateo, Zarcero, Río Cuarto.

In the province of Cartago: La Unión, Paraíso, Alvarado, Jiménez, Turrialba.

In the province of Heredia: Belén, Sarapiquí, Heredia, Santa Bárbara, San Rafael, Flores.

In the province of Guanacaste: Nandayure, Abangares, Carrillo, Liberia, Nicoya, Santa Cruz, Bagaces, Cañas, Tilarán.

In the province of Puntarenas: Buenos Aires, Puntarenas, Montes de Oro, Esparza.

In the province of Limon: Talamanca.


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