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Why Costa Rica is re-applying driving restrictions

April 16, 2021

Costa Rica will restart its weekend daytime driving restrictions beginning this Saturday. Click here for all the details.

The Presidency issued the following statement explaining why it believes the measure is necessary:

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Given the accelerated increase in Covid-19 cases, the high rate of reproduction of the virus, the limited hospital capacity and the circulation of new variants of the virus, this Thursday authorities announced the new application of the sanitary vehicle restriction by plates at the end of week, starting this Saturday, April 17 and Sunday, April 18.

In a month, infections and the number of hospitalized people doubled, while the number of deceased people has also increased, an upward trend that is evidenced in this week’s data and that this growth is projected to continue. Today there were more than 1,100 new positives for COVID-19 and 498 hospitalized people.

Daniel Salas, Minister of Health, explained the need to take measures in the current epidemiological context.

“We note with great concern the sustained increase in cases every day, in addition to the growth in deaths. This leads us to take an immediate measure that is the restriction on weekends due to plates, it is a measure that has statistically shown to have a strength and an important impact on mobilization and infections. ”

Hospital capacity

By resuming many of the usual activities, the need for medical attention due to traffic accidents, conflicts, injuries and other illnesses, forces the use of beds that were previously intended only for COVID patients. In recent days, ICU occupancy has reached up to 90%. Added to the above is an increase in the number of consultations for cough and fever symptoms throughout the country; this is an indicator of a greater circulation of respiratory viruses such as COVID-19.

Mario Ruiz, medical manager of the CCSS explained the increase in hospitalizations: “We are treating patients for other illnesses, traffic accidents, firearm injuries and surgeries; patients who may also require an intensive care unit. Hospital pressure is increasing every day, it increases between 10 and 20 patients due to COVID-19 every day.”

Currently the R rate (virus reproduction) is 1.41. This data means that 2 sick people will, on average, infect practically another 3. In a short time this growth could lead to a health and socioeconomic emergency of a level the country has not faced during this pandemic. These data collected and analyzed by scientists from different disciplines indicate that it is mandatory to take immediate measures to avoid hospital saturation and thus save lives.

Vehicle restriction on weekends: an indispensable measure

With the aim of slowing down the increase in infections without affecting the country’s commercial activity, as of this Saturday, April 17, the sanitary vehicle restriction by plates will be resumed. On Saturdays only the plates finished in even numbers will be able to circulate and on Sundays only the plates finished in odd numbers will circulate.

Studies from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) and the State of the Nation Program, as well as international research from the United Kingdom, China, the United States and Italy have shown that reducing mobility is the best measure to reduce the circulation of virus.

According to a study developed by experts from the UCR, restriction on weekends combined with an adequate application of protocols has great potential to reduce infections. In addition, scientists have pointed to evidence of a relationship between the increase in cases and the elimination of vehicle restriction on weekends.

On the other hand, as announced earlier this week, control operations both in the streets and in commercial establishments will intensify. “We will increase the number of sanitary vehicle restriction operations by license plates, in addition the Public Force and other police will be controlling the gauges so that they adhere to the current regulations,” announced Eduardo Solano, Deputy Minister of Public Security.

At the same time, the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) will continue its vaccination strategy for the first two vulnerable groups. As of Monday’s cutoff, 586,799 doses had been applied with an increase in vaccination each week.

The health, safety and emergency teams will keep up their hard work to take care of everyone’s life. The authorities made a new call to the population to respect sanitary regulations, in addition to always maintaining distance, washing hands and the use of a mask.

Minister Salas called on the entire population to voluntarily reduce their mobility and not expose themselves unnecessarily. “We ask that all the mobilizations that are not extremely necessary try to reduce them. Plan well what trips you are going to do and how you are going to do them because any mobility that can be avoided helps save lives.”

Information through official means

The sanitary vehicle restriction by plates on weekends and the control operations are the two measures proposed to contain the spread of the virus. There is no measure of closure of activities and the restriction schedule is not changed on any day. Any other information is false. Therefore, the authorities called for information through official sources such as the site presidencia.go.cr/alertas.

Due to the notable increase in the number of cases, the Ministry of Health resumed the daily publication of data on its website www.ministeriodesalud.go.cr. The publication will be from Monday to Friday before 7:00 p.m.

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