Friday 29 September 2023

Suspending freedom of transit and assembly at sites with high COVID-19 cases would flatten the curve

Costa Rica's College of Physicians and Surgeons says It is the responsibility of everyone to stop the spread of contagion

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29 September 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

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(QCOSTARICA) Temporarily suspending freedom of transit and assembly to contain the expansion of the COVID-19 would flatten the contagion curve, according to Costa Rica’s College of Physicians and Surgeons (Colegio de Médicos y Cirujanos).

“It is the responsibility of everyone to contribute to the maintenance of the health system. Only in this way will we get ahead and avoid the collapse of hospital centers,” said Luis Carlos Pastor, president of the Costa Rica College of Physicians and Surgeons

The proposal resurfaces at a time when the country has had a spike new infections by the hundreds every day, in addition to an increase in hospitalized and  deaths

The extraordinary measure that is contemplated in the country’s Constitution had already been proposed by the physicians at the beginning of the pandemic and now, in the face of a second pandemic wave that “eats at the resources voraciously”, the option is again proposed.

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“Given the increase in cases registered in recent weeks, our position remains the same. In order to contain, advance and flatten the curve of growing cases, it is necessary to establish: quarantines, limit freedom of transit to strengthen measures such as social distancing in the population; this College maintains its position of supporting these measures in accordance with what Health authorities dictate,” said Luis Carlos Pastor, president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

A forced quarantine in places in the Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) where there is a higher incidence of the virus such as Pavas, Desamparados, and Alajuelita – three of the most populous areas in the country – would serve not only to flatten the curve, again, but also to stabilize the gap between hospital admissions and discharges and thus lower hospital bed occupancy.

This temporary suspension of individual rights would go hand in hand with raising the orange to red alert in those areas with the highest incidences.

“If the country reaches this phase, the level of restriction would be the maximum possible,” said Daniel Salas, Minister of Health.

The lifting of basic freedoms such as those mentioned requires the endorsement of the Legislative Assembly, which would have to vote in favor of this extraordinary measure with a vote of two-thirds of legislators.

However, the measures proposed by the medical association would not be enough to stop the spread, if other fundamental measures such as social distancing, avoiding crowds, washing hands, and applying cough and sneeze protocols.

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In addition, the medical association recommends people to go to health centers as soon as they have symptoms so that the disease does not progress and complicate their body.

Also, it would be essential for people who go to hospital services to clearly indicate if they have been in contact with other people suspected of having been infected with the virus.

“If a person is a carrier of COVID-19 or has had contact with people infected with the virus, not only must they comply with health orders and maintain quarantine, but they must not lie when attending medical centers so as not to put at risk the health centers or compromise care to other service users,” said Pastor.

There have already been two cases in which patients hide this information, putting at risk not only the officials who care for them, but also those who are in hospitals. One case was that of a pregnant woman who lied to hospital staff of her husband’s quarantine order, discovered after she was admitted and now both face sanctions, that include possible criminal charges.

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Just in the first 8 days of this month, the number of new positive cases grew from 3,763 on July 1 to 5,836 on the 8th, and increase of 2,073, and 8 deaths in the same period (from 17 to 25).

In the first three months of the pandemic (March 6 to June 6), there were only 1,263 confirmed cases and 10 deaths. See COVID-19 timeline here.

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