The Government of Costa Rica ruled out this past week closing borders or implementing new restrictive measures to counter the Omicron variant of Covid-19 that is generating alarm throughout the world.
“Information has been given that a new variant known as Omicron circulates in the world and it is premature to know its scope. But Costa Rica has to continue with basic protection measures such as the use of a mask, hand washing, social distancing and not crowding, but mainly vaccination,” said the country’s President, Carlos Alvarado.
The President, who ruled out new restrictive measures for the time being, asked the population “not to panic” with the new variant that has not yet been detected in the country, but “also not to lower the guard” because “the Pandemic is not over.”
For his part, the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, assured that “the closure of borders is not effective to stop the virus” and said that this was demonstrated with the original virus and its variants such as the Delta.
“The virus is transmitted very easily. Globalization and the intense pace of travel mean that the virus is present quickly and when it is detected it is late and it already circulates in many parts of the world,” Salas explained.
The minister reiterated the importance of vaccination to avoid serious illness and hospital saturation and because “the less we vaccinate in the world, the more likely it is that the virus will circulate.”
“The omicron variant is a variant of concern because the number of mutations that have been recorded could cause a resurgence of the Pandemic, but there are still many questions. The variant has the potential to produce a resurgence of the virus, but this is still under study,” Salas said.
Official data from Costa Rica as of November 22nd indicates that 90.3% of the target population to be vaccinated (over 12 years of age) has at least one dose of the vaccine and that 73.6% have two. The percentage of coverage of third doses is 0.7%.
If the total population of the country of 5.1 million inhabitants is taken into account, the coverage of first doses is 74.8%; the second is 60.9%; and the third is 0.6%. Costa Rica hopes to intensify the application of third doses to first responders, adults over 58 years of age, and immunosuppressed people starting in December.
This Central American country currently has the lowest numbers of infections and hospitalizations of the year. Costa Rica accumulates 566,560 cases and 7,287 deaths from covid-19 so far in the Pandemic.