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Authorities urge responsibility as coronavirus strains hospital capacity

Costa Rica suffered 41 new coronavirus-related deaths between Friday and Tuesday for a total of 1,731, according to official data released Tuesday afternoon by the Health Ministry.

Five-hundred and seventy-one people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, an increase of 58 people since Friday.

According to Román Macaya, executive president of the Costa Rica Social Security System (CCSS), 99 patients are in “critical care” ICU beds designed for patients with COVID-19 and other comorbidities. The public-health system has just eight remaining critical-care beds available.

The 224 patients in the ICU represents 62% of Costa Rica’s total capacity.

The Health Ministry has confirmed 140,172 total cases, including 1,155 on Saturday, 851 on Sunday, 539 on Monday and 534 on Tuesday. At least 87,721 people have been cleared as recovered, though this number lags weeks behind the actual figure.

The data indicate Costa Rica has 33.9 COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 people. COVID-19 will be Costa Rica’s leading cause of death in 2020.

Authorities urge responsible celebrations

Health Minister Daniel Salas and other authorities urged Costa Ricans to celebrate Christmas, the New Year and other holidays responsibly.

“December is a complicated month for the pandemic. It could be fruitful and fertile for the virus if we don’t follow recommendations,” Salas said. “We need to be brave and accept the harsh reality.”

Alexander Solís, President of the National Emergency Commission, indicated restrictions will remain unchanged in December and asked for compliance even as several promising vaccines approach approval.

“Help is on the way, but it’s not here yet,” he said.

Costa Rica’s outbreak in context

Costa Rica has the 47th-most new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, according to data compiled by The New York Times. At 21 new cases per 100,000 people, this significantly trails the United States (48.3) but is higher than Canada (15.6).

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.

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 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 up to 359 intensive-care beds and 986 beds for less-complex coronavirus hospitalizations.


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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