Rico’s Covid-19 Digest – The World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020, declared COVID-19 pandemic. On March 6, Costa Rica reported its first confirmed case, a New Yorker visiting the country. As did many countries around the world, Costa Rica declared a state of emergency and implemented strict public health measures.
As of Sunday, April 26, 51 days after, the total infected reached 695. For almost two weeks, the number of new cases has been in single digits. The country counts this Monday morning with only 425 cases, as recoveries far outnumber new infections.
For the most part, Costa Rican have adapted to the “new normal”, such as driving restrictions countrywide, instead of only San Jose, and no driving at night. After almost weeks on end of social distancing, closed stores, malls, and beaches, tiredness is setting in.
Unemployment or reduced work, complete sectors like tourism hard hit and the economy is suffering. So, it’s no surprise many asking, or at least thinking, the same question: when will it all end?
There is no easy answer to this question. Projections and expert opinions, all point to one simple reality: we don’t know.
There are good signs that the actions taken by the Ministry of Health, the daily preaching by Dr. Daniel Salas of washing our hands, staying at home, going out only if necessary and more are working. Although there are new cases daily, it is a much slower rate than a few weeks ago.
The concern of overwhelming medical resources, such as hospitals and intensive care units did not occur.
Costa Rica did not like our neighbor to the south (Panama) and neighbors to the north (El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala), next to the immediate (Nicaragua), lock down the country.
Yes, we have restrictions on driving, the airports, sea and land borders did not close completely, only prohibiting the entry of foreigners (though they can leave).
Although it’s too early to tell if we’ve reached the peak of the first epidemic wave, it may be time to loosen up a little bit, not too much, too soon, to start moving towards a new normal.
For this, both President Carlos Alvarado and the Health Minister advanced that today, Monday, April 27, there will be changes, an easing of the restrictions, but not a removal as many have come to think.
This is an evolving situation.
I don’t have a crystal ball or inside information, just common sense that the measures will move from primarily health-focused, as has been the case so far, to a more economic one. I cannot think that the changes to be announced today will be overly drastic or will take effect immediately.
I don’t see stadiums filled with soccer or concert fans any time soon. I don’t see the night time vehicular restrictions being lifted, perhaps starting a little later, 10 pm like before Semana Santa.
As to the rest, we will learn in a few hours.