(QCOSTARICA) The relaxation of the distancing measures motivated the increase in cases of COVID-19 in Costa Rica, said the Ciro Ugarte, head of the Department of Health Emergencies of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), this Tuesday.
“Costa Rica implemented epidemiological tracking early and adequately during the pandemic. It has been following the contacts. The presence of the cases in border cantons, peri-urban settlements… is well focused, but there is not enough information in other locations and that caused the number of cases to increase,” said Ugarte during a press conference with media in the region.
“We are seeing a second rapid increase in cases in areas with the relaxation of physical distancing. Also due to the perception of few cases, they felt they had a greater opportunity to relax the measures,” he added.
Costa Rica went from registering dozens of daily cases of the disease in the months of March, April and May to reporting between 400 and 500 in the second half of June and a single day of 649 cases on July 9.
The number of hospitalizations, patients requiring intensive care, and deaths also rose, more than doubling in the past two weeks.
The main focuses are now in the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM), which remains on orange alert, which implies trade restrictions, mainly.
Ugarte expressed concern about the loss of the trail of the epidemiological links, but considers that there is still time to work on the situation.
On this matter, Health Minister, Daniel Salas, indicated at a press conference on Monday that with the strict measures of these days they had managed to recover 64% of the links in cases.
“We need to continue the essential strict measures of detection and immediate isolation of confirmed and suspected cases. Quarantine of all contacts, treatment and hospitalization of all cases that are required, and the massive and strict implementation of all public health measures, including face masks, hand washing and being aware of the importance of physical distancing,” said Ugarte.
“If we do not do this, we will surely see situations that we have seen in other countries, not only in the region but throughout the world,” he added.
Carissa Etienne, director of PAHO, pointed out that countries should take into account that the flexibility and openness of the economy must go hand in hand with epidemiological information.
“Decisions must be made according to the behavior of the disease, for that good epidemiological data are required,” concluded Etienne.