More than four months have passed since Costa Rica reported its first case of Coronavirus, which was diagnosed in a tourist who was visiting the country. Although since then the disease has spread throughout the territory, affecting thousands of people, it is foreigners who bear the brunt of the contagion from the numerical point of view.
In global terms, the group represents 3,000 of the 10,000 cases accumulated throughout the Pandemic, that is, 30% of the total, a fact that, however, is amplified by taking into account that this third part of diagnoses is divided among less than a tenth of the country’s inhabitants.
The phenomenon is explained as follows: last week the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) calculated the percentage of foreign nationals that Costa Rica has at 9%, that is, 450,000 people, taking into account a population of 5,200,000 estimated by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC).
With these data, an infection rate of 0.66% is obtained, or what is equivalent to the fact that 1 of 150 foreigners living in the country has contracted the disease. The figure is much higher than the rates registered among the native Costa Rican population, where the rate is 0.15%, which translates to 1 in 660 infected by the virus.
Data from the Ministry of Health shows that to date there are cases in 35 different nationalities, other than Costa Ricans. The increased rate of infections among migrants has already reflected also among patients who have required hospitalization.
With the cut to the end of this past week, when 210 hospitalized patients were registered, the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) lists 52 foreigners in that group, 10 of which are assigned to intensive care units. People of Nicaraguan nationality led the group with 85% of the internees, among whom citizens of Cuba, Venezuela, Peru, and China also stand out.
Given the percentage growth of COVID-19 among the migrant community, the director of the CCSS Collective Health Area, Giselle Guzmán, informs about the existence of some factors affecting that community, although these vulnerability factors hold constant for the entire population. According to the expert, conditions such as population density, age, overcrowding in housing or lifestyle are involved and expose the population equally without distinction of nationality.
In this regard, the medical manager of the CCSS, Mario Ruiz, called for the Pandemic not to be a factor for detracting humanitarian quality from the attention given by the institution to the entire Costa Rican population. “When there is a Pandemic, you have to try, as a health system, to treat as many people as possible regardless of their origin,” the official said during the press conference.