Sunday 5 February 2023

Omicron variant pushes contagion rate in Costa Rica to all time high of 2.64

The Universidad Hispanoamericana characterizes this wave by explosiveness in cases, but hospitalizations remain low

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QCOSTARICA -The contagion rate of covid-19 in Costa Rica, which describes the speed with which the disease is transmitted, registers a new all time high, according to the analysis of the Universidad Hispanoamericana (UH).

Specialists ask the population to maintain personal care measures in spaces where there are many people and it is more difficult to keep distance.  Photo: Rafael Pacheco Granados

The indicator went from 2.12 to 2.64.

This means that, based on the reported cases of the last week, a group of 100 people with the SARS-Cov-2 virus, which causes covid-19, would infect 264. That is, the number of infected more than doubles. This indicator, also called the R rate, accounts for the transmission of the virus in a certain space of time and place, in this case, what happened in Costa Rica between January 2 and 8.

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Analysts, led by doctor and epidemiologist Ronald Evans, attribute this abrupt growth to the omicron variant, which has proven to be more contagious. However, the symptoms of this are milder and, although hospitalizations have been increasing, they do so at a much lower rate than infections.

Data from the Ministry of Health indicate that Friday afternoon, January 14, there were 268 people in hospital of which 62 were in intensive care units (ICU). The number of hospitalized a week ago (January 7) was 180 and 51, respectively; the week before that (December 31), 119 people were in hospital, of which 46 were in the ICU.

On Friday, the Ministry of Health reported 4,063 new cases of covid-19 in the country, a trend for most of the week, with 38,278 active infections, more than double 15,346 the previous Friday, January 7, and 4,223 on December 31.

Despite the fact that hospital capacity is still in low numbers, the concern is that a very strong explosion of cases could compromise health services, since a very small percentage of patients who currently require a medical center may translate to many people if infection numbers were to eventually number in the tens of thousands a day.

Contagion is not equal all over

Contagion is not the same throughout the country and each province has its own rhythm.

The highest is in Limón, with a contagion rate of 3.24; followed by Alajuela, with 2.87, Heredia, with 2.79, Cartago, with 2.74, and San José, with 2.68.

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Guanacaste and Puntarenas have the lowest, with 2.32 and 2.03, respectively.

The analysis by cantons focuses on reviewing the risk of the number of covid-19 cases, according to the population of each. It is done that way because the calculation of the contagion rate is not feasible in places with less than 25,000 inhabitants.

A high-risk category is considered when there are more than 250 cases per million inhabitants. A week ago there were only three cantons on this list, this Friday, there are 45.

Leading the high incidence rate for the last six months is the canton of Santa Ana with 1,438.8 cases per million inhabitants, Garabito with 1,347.3 and Escazú with 1,132.5, according to the UH reprot.

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The report highlights there are three cantons, all in the province of Alajuela, where the number of cases in the last week was almost zero: San Mateo, Río Cuarto and Guatuso.

Analysts remind that the contagion rate is very volatile and the numbers can change a lot (in any direction) in a matter of a few days.

The contagion rate indicates the speed of transmission and not necessarily the number of patients who appear in a week, but the rising numbers have been evident since the last week of 2021 and these last seven days the increase was greater.

“Last week, the weekly daily average of cases was 2,053, 1,604 more cases than those registered during the previous week, that is, a percentage increase equivalent to 357.24%. In other words, from one week to the next, it suffered a 4.6-fold increase,” the report states.


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