The Ministry of Health ruled out closures of commercial establishments temporarily during the festive dates of December and beginning of 2021. The information was made official this Sunday by Daniel Salas, minister of the branch, in a virtual press conference. Salas emphasized that these closures are not feasible taking into account that there are no longer financial resources available for those workers who are affected by the closure measures.
The headline referred to the so-called Protect Bonus, which did not cover 275,000 people who requested it long ago, but were unable to obtain the aid. The Government indicated that it does not have the resources to transfer them to this population.
Salas appealed to citizen responsibility to avoid crowds in shopping centers and streets of the country. Even to avoid the specific closure of a business, as has already happened with bars and restaurants, he indicated.
The head of Health asked the population to avoid leaving their homes and, if they need to go to a store to make a purchase, check in advance the availability of the product. “There is an important sector (of the population) cramming shopping malls, streets, precincts that before out of fear, were complying with the safety measures,” he said. During this past weekend an important agglomeration was reported in San José, as well as at the Juan Santamaría airport.
Closure measures are not contemplated, despite the saturation of beds. There are currently 359 beds in Intensive Care Units (ICU), of which 116 are for critical patients and 99 are occupied. But only 5 are available. With regard to private hospitals, Salas stated that there are “twenty-something ICUs available.” Therefore “that does not broaden the threshold for everything that may arise if we continue to not take the virus seriously.”
In 15 days it could be the last goodbye
Before Christmas and New Years, Salas made a call not to break social bubbles and avoid large dinner gatherings on these festive dates. In a very direct and crude message, the Minister affirmed that if there are these types of activities, many people will have their last supper, since this will cause that within 15 days many people will see their relatives pass away due to the virus.
Hours after the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) warned that the occupation of beds for critical patients was “at the peak”, this weekend the institution announced that the “maximum capacity” had been reached.
“It is very painful to say it but we have already reached a maximum capacity. We are facing a critical situation, the most critical we have seen. It is the first time that we have patients in line to place them in critical care beds,” said Mario Ruiz, medical manager of the CCSS. The official said an increase in mortality is not ruled out, given that critical care beds are not available.
Ruiz said that he is also concerned about the increase in daily transfers. In fact, up to 20 are being reported. There have even been transfers of five pregnant women with COVID-19. Daniel Salas, Minister of Health, reiterated Ruiz’s concern about the increase in daily cases, especially of critical patients. He also called for prudence and awareness by the population.