Costa Rica would have finally reached a “plateau” in the number of new infections of the new SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus for the first time since last April; In other words, the growth levels of the contagion curve have stabilized in recent weeks without growing or decreasing significantly.
This was pointed out by the Vice Minister of Health, Pedro González, at a press conference; although he stressed that this possible plateau should be taken with “caution” because it could be occurring due to the failure to identify cases in a timely manner.
“Yes, there is a possible plateau, but it is being taken with great caution, with a bit of hope and fingers crossed, but carefully, because it could be a temporary effect (…) however, several elements must be taken into account, for example, that we could be doing more tests at the national level, without leaving people out undiagnosed”, commented the health chief.
This statement is how the Health Ministry reacted after the Central American Population Center (CCP) of the University of Costa Rica (UCR) published its most recent update on the R rate of contagion for COVID-19; which stood at 0.96 towards the end of September.
González stated that this measurement is encouraging, taking into account that what is indicated for the contagion curve to fall is that the rate remains below 1; however, he affirmed that for the trend to continue and be accentuated it is necessary for the population to maintain its forecasts.
Not lower the guard
“The call to the population is not to lower our guard and continue taking measures, doing economic and productive activities but complying with the guidelines and with that personal care that has been done so far, and even more if it is possible,” the officialstressed .
The R rate, or contagion rate, indicates the average number of people that each infected person infects. Therefore, it serves to determine the eventual growth or decrease of a pandemic wave.
This is how the CCP-UCR explains it: “if R is less than one, the epidemic is on the way to extinction, but if it is greater than 1 there is proliferation, which will be exponential unless something is done to contain it.”
Costa Rica closed September with more than 75 thousand confirmed cases of COVID-19; that is, the virus has already reached 1.5% of the population or more, taking into account that many asymptomatic or symptomatic cases would not be detected due to different social factors. In addition, the country exceeded 900 deaths.
The flattening in the contagion curve seems to come at a key moment for the country, as the contagion rate had risen above 1.15 at the beginning of September and this number threatened hospital saturations in less than 30 days.
To date, national hospitals already face an occupation of 60% that has remained stable in intensive care units (where the most complex complications of the disease are treated); while the data decreases to 35% in intermediate care beds.