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COVID-19 is Costa Rica’s third-leading cause of death, Health Ministry says

October 14, 2020

Health Minister Daniel Salas said Wednesday that COVID-19 has become Costa Rica’s third-leading cause of death when compared to historical data from 2016-18.

“Referring to this regrettable chapter of mortality, COVID-19 finds itself — according to the 2016-18 historical data — as the third-highest, and nearly the second-highest, cause of death at the national level,” Salas said.

As of Wednesday, the Health Ministry has announced 1,134 total coronavirus-related deaths, which calculates to 22.2 deaths per 100,000 people in Costa Rica.

Study analyzes Costa Rica’s COVID-related deaths

Since July, the Health Ministry has worked alongside the country’s Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) and the National Statistics Institute (INEC) to analyze Costa Rica’s COVID-19-related deaths.

The team of forensic and medical experts is determining how many of Costa Rica’s coronavirus-related deaths were actually caused by COVID-19 or an associated complication.

Of the 212 deaths analyzed so far, more than 90% have been confirmed to have resulted from the SARS-CoV-2 virus or a related complication.

“The virus provoked their death,” Salas said.

Nineteen of the 212 deaths resulted from other causes “and coincidentally, the virus was present when they died,” Salas explained.

This case-by-case analysis mirrors the examination Costa Rica conducted during and after the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. It will continue over the coming months.

Hypertension remains a leading risk factor

Hypertension remains a leading comorbidity in patients who died of COVID-19 in Costa Rica, Salas said.

Of the 212 deaths analyzed by the committee, 64% had hypertension, 39% had diabetes, and 35% had a heart condition.

Age is also a risk factor; Costa Rica’s 1,134 coronavirus-related deaths comprise 380 adults and 754 elderly adults with a total average age of 70.

“This commission continues its evaluations,” Salas said. “This is important for having more exact data to know what’s happening due to COVID at a national level.”

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