Saturday 9 December 2023

Daniel Salas: Not a matter of if, but when Omicron arrives in Costa Rica

Unvaccinated people are "fertile ground" for Omicron, says Daniel Salas. "The government is not considering closing the borders for the moment," added the Minister of Health

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QCOSTARICA – “Omicron has the potential to worsen the pandemic,” affirms the Minister of Health that, in theory, the new omicron variant does have the potential to produce a resurgence of the virus worldwide and is asking the population to take care of themselves.

Health Minister Daniel Salas speaking to the press from the Ceaco on the Omicron variant

Given the appearance of the new COVID-19 variant named Omicron, Daniel Salas reiterated the validity of prevention measures, while highlighting the absolute relevance of vaccination as the main tool to contain the pandemic.

The Minister said the government is not considering closing the borders for the moment.

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“The closure is not effective because the virus is transmitted very easily,” said Daniel Salas, in a press interview held at the CEACO, together with President Carlos Alvarado, the President of the National Commission for Risk Prevention and Emergency Attention (CNE), Alexander Solís, the Vice Minister of Health, Pedro González, and the Director of CEACO, Marco Vargas.

For President Carlos Alvarado, there are still many doubts regarding the new variant.

“Up to this point we do not foresee taking new measures in relation to the Omicron variant … But as Don Daniel (Salas) has said, the closing of borders is not what helps us,” said Alvarado.

For the government, the most important measure to face the variants is to advance in the vaccination process against Covid-19

The United States, Israel, and several countries of the European Union have announced the closure of their borders to flights from southern Africa, as a preventive measure.

Unvaccinated people are “fertile ground” for Omicron, not if but when it arrives in Costa Rica, stressed Daniel Salas.

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“Costa Rica is not exempt upon the arrival of Omicron, so the request of the Health authorities is that citizens be vaccinated and complete schemes to protect themselves against Covid-19 and any of its variants.

“People who have not yet been vaccinated become fertile ground for new variants to emerge, hence the importance of advancing the vaccination process at a national and global level. Along these lines, it is fortunate that soon we will be able to apply booster vaccines for those most vulnerable groups and that have taken longer since they completed their vaccination schedule,” said the Minister

Currently, there is no information to show that Omicron produces more severe symptoms or that it is a more transmissible variant compared to the others; however, the information is still very limited because it is very recent.

The World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted that preliminary scientific evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant.

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In addition, it has many more mutations than Delta, specifically in an area of the protein that interacts with human cells.

In addition to immunization, Salas highlights these preventive measures:

  • Correct use of the mask, covering nose and mouth.
  • Preferring open and ventilated spaces, taking into account the encounters between friends and family typical of this time, it is essential to understand that outdoor or widely ventilated spaces can substantially reduce the risk of contagion.
  • Constant hand washing and always before touching the face.
  • Cough and sneeze protocol.
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