Friday 27 January 2023

Government declares orange alert due to the fast spread of omicron

The change is effective as of this Thursday as a measure to ensure essential services and organize a response from public entities due to an increase in covid-19 cases.

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27 January 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – The government of Carlos Alvarado declared, this Thursday, January 13, an orange alert for the entire country as a preventive measure to ensure the provision of essential services, due to the sharp rise in covid-19 cases caused by the omicron variant.

The measure was confirmed by Sigifredo Pérez, director of the Comisión Nacional de Emergencias (CNE) – National Emergency Commission, during a live broadcast in which he explained that the measure will allow different first response agencies to better manage the health contingency.

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The closure of epidemiological week 1-2022 left a 400% increase in new cases – 14,628 during the period – compared to the 3,385 confirmed infections the previous week.

This increase is reflected in cantons such as Escazú, Santa Ana, Tibás, Moravia, Montes de Oca, Dota, Curridabat, Turrialba, Heredia, Belén, San Pablo, Santa Cruz, Quepos, Garabito and Talamanca, where previous records of the pandemic.

What does the orange alert mean?

For now, no new sanitary measures announced, the elevation of alert to orange aims to guarantee that the product supply lines continue without disturbances and minimize damages to economic activities.

The rapid spread of omicron throughout the national territory could mean the disability of workers due to covid infection could skyrocket, which could affect the provision of essential services and the production chain.

Pérez pointed out that the change in alert aims for citizens to tune in to a new risk condition and take much more care with a correct application of health protocols to avoid contagion in families and among workers.

Until today, only the Guanacaste canton of Cañas had remained on orange alert while the rest of the country was on yellow alert.

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Since the beginning of the year and to date, more than 1,000 Caja workers have been reported as disabled due to Covid-19 infections.

During the morning press conference, the director of the CNE again made a vehement call to the population to avoid agglomerations.

For her part, Priscilla Herrera, general director of Health, added that the declaration seeks to ensure the continuity of emergency operations given the forecast increase in cases and saturation of services at other levels of hospital care.

“That is why it is key that the population keep the measures that we already know and apply them: hand washing, social distancing and (using) a mask,” said Herrera.

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The characteristics of greater transmissibility and milder symptoms of omicron would mean that, in an “intermediate scenario” per day, there are about 10,000 cases, which could lead to between 98,000 and 100,000 people incapacitated at the same time.

These are the mathematical estimates made by Tomás de Camino Beck, director of the School of Intelligent Systems at the Universidad Cenfotec and an expert in epidemiological models, and by Santiago Núñez Corrales, a Costa Rican researcher in complex systems at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in the United States.

The rebound in cases of covid-19 caused by omicron forced authorities of the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS) to reactivate the strategy of scaling beds for the management of patients with the virus, because although it has been seen that this strain registers a lower severity, the number of cases and the accelerated level of contagion could saturate health services in a few weeks.


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