Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Wednesday’s numbers on covid-19 move us away from the ‘best case scenario’ projected in April

Last April 27, Health Minister Daniel Salas presented projections of scenarios that estimated what could happen if all the sanitary measures were lifted at that time, but also, what would happen if all of them were maintained.

The Minister said at the time “if all restrictions are lifted today we would have 53,000 cases by mid-July.”

That day he also gave a figure if the measures of that time were still maintained.

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Minister Salas projected that as of July 21, there would be 1,368 cases, 48 days away.

Yesterday, June 3, the Ministry of Health reported 52 new cases, the highest number ever in a 24 hour period since the first case on March 6:

What happened?

Hard to pinpoint. Projections are not predictions of the future. According to epidemiologist and former Health Minister Ana Cecilia Morice, “Projections are an estimate of what would happen according to behaviors that have been seen so far, but we see reality arriving so far.”

There is something to keep in mind when reading these numbers as well. When the projections of the best scenario were made, they were made based on the measures that were taken on April 27, which, although they were not as rigorous as those of Easter, were more flexible than those in May.

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When the measures began to relax and there was greater openness to people leaving the social bubble, although they stayed below 10 new cases daily, by the middle of May they started rising, seeing numbers in the teens as the new norm, then in the 20s and yesterday, the big bang of 52.

For now, the country has not seen community transmission. The different numbers of cases from one day to the next respond to the dynamic of infections that our country has had since the arrival of the disease.

“In Costa Rica there has been no sustained community transmission, but rather a behavior in clusters and this has led to a very meticulous follow-up of contacts. That is why the numbers rise and fall, depending on the characteristics of the clusters of the opportunity of the response and effectiveness of the contact blockade,” explained Morice.

And she added: “In other words, monitoring and decisions are not made only on the case curve, but also taking other indicators into account.”

In other words, the disease situation does not only have to do with the number of cases per day, but with the origin of these.

Sociologist Andrea Alvarado indicates that staying a long time at home helps people get tired and begin to let their guard down.

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“Our human nature is to go out and be with more people. When we are asked to stay home we can do it, but eventually, we start to let our guard down. Many people begin to see that there is no sudden increase in cases and believe that then it is not so bad and they neglect hygiene and distance measures, but this, at the same time, can cause cases to increase,” she said.

"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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