Tuesday 7 February 2023

What is the government doing while omicron expands in Costa Rica?

"It is still too early to intervene with restrictive measures. This will depend on the variation in the number of sick and hospitalized (...)," Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado

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7 February 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – Although the cases of Omicron in Costa Rica are so far low, only four cases have been confirmed by the Ministry of Health as of Friday, the government of Carlos Alvarado is not taking any new preventive measures against it.

“It is still too early to intervene with restrictive measures. This will depend on the variation in the number of sick and hospitalized (…),” Costa Rica President Carlos Alvarado

The Omicron variant likely will spread more easily than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and how easily Omicron spreads compared to Delta remains unknown, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The concern is “we don’t yet know how easily it spreads, the severity of illness it causes, or how well available vaccines and medications work against it,” says the CDC on its website.

In Costa Rica, almost a month after the world received the health alert due to the identification of a new variant of COVID-19, the first case of this variant was identified: an 8-year-old boy who recently came from a trip to the United States, who became the first omicron find in the country.

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On December 24, the Ministry of Health reported that the Costa Rican Institute for Research and Teaching in Nutrition and Health (Inciensa) identified three new cases of this variant. None of these new cases are related to the 8-year-old boy.

After this first case, Health authorities have insisted that the omicron variant already circulates freely throughout Costa Rica and is already possibly dominating the country.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Daniel Salas, reported last week that it is very likely that there are many more cases of omicron circulating in Costa Rica and it was very possible we could be facing a new wave of infections, given that the omicron variant spread in the country is unavoidable.

“It is to be expected that there will be more cases that are not (yet0 detected, the circulation of this variant is very transmissible so it is to be expected that it will take the place of Delta and displace it,” said Salas.

What is the government doing about this?

President Carlos Alvarado, last Wednesday (December 22) questioned during a press conference, assured that the main action that the Government is executing at this time is epidemiological monitoring, which allows Health authorities to track possible infections with this variant.

Alvarado is pinning hopes that the investigative team will provide details of infections that often cannot be identified.

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“This is part of the work carried out by the technical team to indicate what are the signs of circulation of the variant and the contagions that it is caused,” explained the President and insisted that, for the moment, there will be no new restriction measures, based on the current situation that omicron is not generating problems at the hospital level, but he does not rule out that this variant could change the current panorama.

“It is still too early to intervene with restrictive measures. This will depend on the variation in the number of sick and hospitalized. At that time, when the numbers put us on alert, we will have to consider what measures will be taken,” said Alvarado.

Omicron could not have come at a worse time, the holiday celebrations that could worsen the situation, taking into account what is happening in other countries, where omicron has caused a new wave of contagions.

Dr. Salas pointed out that in the final stretch of the year, there is an opening of many activities and that at this time, it depends on the responsibility of people not to lower the protocols, such as wearing a mask, washing hands frequently and not breaking social bubbles, to be able to lessen the increase in infections to come.

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“That this new wave is not so big depends on people being careful and taking extreme health measures for all the end of the year celebrations. We are at a moment to take actions to abate the wave so that it is not as strong as the previous ones,” concluded Salas.

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