Costa Rica announced 14 new coronavirus-related deaths over the last day for a total of 1,527, according to official data released Thursday afternoon by the Health Ministry.
Four-hundred and eighty-nine people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 191 are in intensive care. Both represent decreases compared to Wednesday.
The Health Ministry confirmed 1,171 new cases on Thursday for a cumulative total of 120,939.
A total of 74,255 people have been cleared as recovered; however, this number typically lags several weeks behind actual figures.
The data indicate Costa Rica has 29.9 COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 people. The country is averaging 14.9 deaths each day since September 1 (1,091 total).
Costa Rica signs agreement with AstraZeneca
Costa Rica has signed an agreement with AstraZeneca for 1 million doses of an eventual vaccine, enough for 500,000 people, the Presidency said Thursday.
The deal adds to Costa Rica’s previous agreements with COVAX, a World Health Organization initiative, and with Pfizer/BioNTech, which recently announced promising preliminary results from their vaccine.
In total, Costa Rica’s plans would vaccinate 3 million people, or about 60% of the country’s total population. Authorities say they would target at-risk groups first.
The AstraZeneca vaccine, developed by the University of Oxford, is expected to be among the first to receive regulatory approval, according to Reuters. It could begin widespread distribution in the first quarter of 2021.
Costa Rica’s outbreak in context
Costa Rica has the 44th-most new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, according to data compiled by The New York Times. At 18.6 new cases per 100,000 people, this significantly trails the United States (38.6) but is higher than Canada (11.3).
About 1.3% of people who tested positive for the coronavirus in Costa Rica have died. The average age of Costa Rica’s coronavirus-related deaths is 70 years. The average age of patients in the ICU is 59 years.
The deaths comprise 1,031 elderly adults, 494 adults and two children.
COVID-19 is expected to be Costa Rica’s leading cause of death in 2020, surpassing acute myocardial infarctions (heart attacks), which killed 1,322 people last year.
An analysis more than 200 COVID-19-related deaths in Costa Rica, released in early October, confirmed 90% of them were caused by the virus or an associated complication, while 9% had died of unrelated causes. This case-by-case analysis is ongoing.
Costa Rica has 359 intensive-care beds and 986 beds for less-complex coronavirus hospitalizations. This means 53% of Costa Rica’s ICU beds are currently occupied.
The below graph shows Costa Rica’s approximate test-positivity rate (the fraction of tests that come back positive) as of Tuesday, November 10. The Tico Times calculates daily positivity using Health Ministry data as follows:
(People testing positive) ÷ (People testing positive + people testing negative)
Note that the actual number of daily tests is higher than indicated on the chart, because one person can be tested multiple times.
The World Health Organization recommends testing enough to keep the positivity rate under 5%; Costa Rica’s high test-positivity rate suggests it’s missing milder or asymptomatic cases, allowing the coronavirus to continue to spread.
The below graphic will update automatically as the Health Ministry releases new coronavirus data.
If you believe you have COVID-19, contact Costa Rica’s hotline at 1322. English-speaking staff and mental health professionals are available. Visit the Costa Rican Presidency for the official list of coronavirus measures and alerts.