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Costa Rica coronavirus updates for Friday, November 20

November 20, 2020

Costa Rica has suffered 1,608 coronavirus-related deaths, including 71 over the past week, according to official data released Friday afternoon by the Health Ministry.

Four-hundred and seventy people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 217 are in intensive care. Health Minister Daniel Salas noted the number of ICU patients has begun to increase after dropping in early November.

“We insist that no one is exempt from getting sick and suffering serious complications, or from transmitting the sickness to someone else who could get seriously ill or die,” Salas said. “I am not saying this to instill fear; I am telling you the reality of 2020.

“Already in Costa Rica, we have accumulated 1,608 deaths. This will be our leading cause of death in 2020.”

The Health Ministry has confirmed 129,418 total cases, including 1,187 over the past 24 hours. As of Thursday, 78,851 people have been cleared as recovered, though this number lags weeks behind the actual figure.

The data indicate Costa Rica has 31.5 COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 people. The country is averaging 11 deaths each day in November (223 total).

“Maybe, instead of data, it would be more impactful for me to read a list of names,” Salas said. “It depends a lot on how we behave through the end of the year to prevent the number of deaths to keep rising.”

The deaths comprise 1,090 elderly adults, 516 adults, and two children.

Costa Rica’s outbreak in context

Costa Rica has the 43rd-most new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, according to data compiled by The New York Times. At 20.8 new cases per 100,000 people, this significantly trails the United States (50.1) but is higher than Canada (12.8).

Costa Rica coronavirus new and rolling cases as of November 20, 2020
Costa Rica coronavirus new and rolling cases as of November 20, 2020. Tico Times graph.

About 1.2% 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.

COVID-19 will 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 60% 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 Thursday, November 19. 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.

Costa Rica coronavirus test positivity rate as of November 19, 2020
Costa Rica coronavirus test positivity rate as of November 19, 2020. Tico Times graph.

The below graphic will update automatically as the Health Ministry releases new coronavirus data. Remember, coronavirus updates now happen twice a week, but this graph updates daily:

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. 

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