QCOSTARICA – In recent days an increase in the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Costa Rica has been reported. The average of under 400 new cases daily saw a sharp increase to over 500 and there is even talk of the third wave of the pandemic.
At Friday’s press conference, Health Minister Daniel Salas provided the covid numbers for the last three days (since Tuesday’s update) revealing, 1,740 new cases and 23 deaths, figures not since January.
The rebound has authorities turning on the alerts.
However, for the time being, Salas assured the country will not apply closure measures as we saw during Semana Santa 2020.
Asked about the possible closures, Salas said that the country is going through an economic crisis and that everyone already knows how to protect themselves from the virus and that business owners have to be responsible.
“The population knows very well and we have sensitized what are the measures to protect themselves, to take care of themselves. That is part of individual responsibility, nor can we deny that a year ago we had many protocols.
“However, we continue to analyze the epidemiological situation and it is not ruled out that we can take containment measures, but we are also aware of the difficult economic situation the country is going through,” he said.
At the moment there are no closings contemplated, but curves and indicators are being analyzed to make a possible decision.
Numbers of new daily cases and contagion rate on the rise
This Friday the country reached an accumulated total of 215,718 confirmed infections since the first case on March 6, 2020.
The number of new cases reported for Friday, March 26, was 570; on Thursday, March 25, 609; and Wednesday, March 24, 561. Numbers not seen since the end of January.
Also, the number of hospitalizations saw a spike, on Friday, 303 people were in hospital, of which 155 in an intensive care unit (ICU). A week ago, on Friday, March 19, 244 people were in hospital.
The daily fatalities associated with Covid-19, although low compared to months earlier, also say a spike from more than a week of under 5 daily deaths to 6 on Wednesday, 9 on Thursday, and 8 on Friday, for an accumulated total of 2,931: 1,094 women and 1,837 men, with an age range of 2 to 103.
Seniors have been hardest hit: 2,032 of the deaths associated with covid are of seniors.
Contagion rate on the rise
The Covid-19 infection rate reached this week the highest point in 10 weeks, 1.08.
This indicator went from 1.07 last week to 1.08 this week and expected to increase further, reaching 1.17 as indicated by an analysis of the Central American Population Center (CCP-UCR). This would lead to 750 cases a day and 200 people in ICU by April 19.
The Universidad Hispanoamericana (UH) arrived at similar conclusions.
“Eight weeks in a row the curve was in a downward process and suddenly, the average number of cases rebounded and the reproduction index returned to sit above 1, a limit that warns us of the threat that hangs over the country,” said Ronald Evans Meza, doctor epidemiologist and coordinator of the UH analysis.
This increase in the last two weeks is already palpable in the number of cases that are reported.
“These changes, although of little magnitude at the moment, are worrying, since they occur in the midst of horrifying news about what is happening in Brazil, where on Tuesday, March 23, for the first time the figure of 3,000 deaths in one day and the number of 300,000 deaths from covid-19 has already been surpassed.
“In addition, as is known, at least three variants that are more contagious already circulate in the world,” Evans said.
Province 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 rhythm.
However, Evans is concerned that, although with different values, only Puntarenas is below 1, with 0.97.
“Guanacaste had an important increase from 0.87 to 1.38. It is important to note that this is the highest basic reproduction rate in a province since the pandemic began”.
By province, from low to high:
- Puntarenas province: 0.97
- Alajuela province: 1.01
- San Jose province: 1.07
- Limon province: 1.17
- Cartago province: 1.18
- Heredia province: 1.19
- Guanacaste province: 1.38
The long week off may lead to more infections. Semana Santa or Easter Week is a time for vacation, especially after last year’s “cancelation”.
Although there is a call for people to take care of themselves and businesses to be more responsible, there are favorable circumstances for the replication of the virus.
“We already have the vaccine, which could stop the appearance of a third wave in Costa Rica, but so far, immunization cannot be trusted due to the slowness with which the process is progressing, mainly due to the scarce availability of the doses,” said Evans.