(QCOSTARICA) The coronavirus pandemic puts a third of the Costa Rican population in particular danger, the 1.6 million over the age of 19 who suffer from high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, or smoking.
These are all diseases that complicate the health of patients with COVID-19.
According to a survey carried out in 2018 by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social (CCSS), five out of 10 people over the age of 19 have at least one of these diseases.
People with these conditions who become infected with the new coronavirus could end up in a hospital and even require a bed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Still, the number of people in particular at risk for COVID-19 could be more, as the survey does not include asthmatics, cancer patients, or people with HIV.
The numbers were shared, this Sunday, by the medical manager of the CCSS, doctor Mario Ruiz, when he warned that, if the current daily number of infections continues, in three or four weeks there would be no ICU beds available.
The doctor did not mention what that could mean, that if that were to be the case, new patients requiring ICU care would have to wait until a bed became available.
Ruiz explained that this would compromise the Costa Rican health system, not only to the detriment of COVID-19 patients but also of those not COVID-19, such as cancer patients, from accidents or complications for surgery.
For this reason, the doctor called on the importance of social distancing, hand washing, respect for social bubbles and the use of masks to reduce the risk of contagion.
“We have shown that, perhaps, young people without risk factors think that nothing will happen to them. But if I am young and I get sick, I can make my grandparents or my parents sick and they can get sick,” said Ruiz.
According to the Caja’s statistics, in Costa Rica, 1.1 million people suffer from high blood pressure, 705,000 are obese, 385,000 are smokers and 379,000 have diabetes.
These conditions were the most common among hospitalized patients with COVID-19 in the country.
Of the total of 175 COVID-19 positive required hospitalization or intensive care from March 16 to June 27, 48% had high blood pressure; 34% were smokers; 31%, obesity; 30%, diabetes, and 12% dyslipidemia, an abnormal amount of lipids (e.g. triglycerides, cholesterol and/or fat phospholipids) in the blood.
In contrast, 11% of non-COVID-19 patients in hospital or ICU had asthma, 4% cancer, and only 1% HIV.
As of Sunday, 37 COVID-19 positive patients are hospitalized, of which three are in Intensive Care.
That is the highest number of hospitalizations for COVID-19 since the first case of the new coronavirus was registered in Costa Rica, on March 6.