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    Capacity to care for critical patients with COVID-19 reaches its peak in Costa Rica

    "We need to react, the health system is not infinite and we are reaching a highly dangerous situation," says the Minister of Health

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    The capacity to treat critical patients with the novel Coronavirus reached its peak, the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) warned on the night of December 19th. Through a statement, in which no figures were specified, the institution reported an extraordinary meeting held, in which the Emergency and Disaster Attention Center, the COVID19 Transfer Center and the Medical Management participated. The purpose of this was to study the hospital capacity for the care of carriers of the respiratory disease.

    “The CCSS still has spaces in intensive care units (ICU) for the care of COVID-19 patients. This is a very dynamic process, which brings us closer and closer to maximum capacity. We are making all possible coordination efforts in the national, regional and peripheral hospitals and determining where new patients can be treated”, informed the medical manager, Mario Ruiz Cubillo. In the press release, the official called on the population to avoid conglomerations and comply with the protocols for the use of a mask, hand washing and physical distancing.

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    “We have said it and we say it again, in the event that the trend of increasing demand for hospitalization services due to COVID-19 continues, we will be exceeding our bed capacity and face the painful situation that other countries have experienced. CCSS has done its part. It is up to people to be responsible for taking care of their health and that of others,” Ruiz said.

    The manager’s message arrives in anticipation of the Christmas and New Year celebrations; The same for which both the Social Security Fund and the Ministry of Health have asked citizens to avoid meetings and the breaking of social bubbles. “The battle against COVID-19 is not won in hospitals but in homes and streets with the responsible behavior of everyone. Please let’s take care of our families together,” he stated.

    Caution advised by the Minister

    The Minister of Health, Daniel Salas Pereza, also made a call to the population in face of the high occupancy registered in the intensive care units. “About a third of COVID-19 patients who enter intensive care will experience kidney failure and therefore will require a critical care bed. This threshold that we reached today places us at risk of not being able to support them. We need to react, the health system is not infinite and we are reaching a highly dangerous situation,” said the official.

    As of December 18th (most recent balance available), the health portfolio registered 625 hospitalizations. Of these, 371 were non-ICU, which represents 37% of the total capacity in moderate service. That same report showed 254 people in intensive care, for a 70% occupation. However, the data published does not distinguish between beds for critical or severe patients. The press office of the Ministry indicated that the most up-to-date details should be requested from the communications department of the Social Security Fund.

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