President Carlos Alvarado said Costa Rica is trying to balance economic activity with population health, even as the country’s public-health system has become saturated with Covid-19 patients.
“I understand what is happening in the hospitals and I understand what’s happening with employment,” said President Alvarado, speaking on Teletica Radio.
“It is not an easily dilemma, the one in which we live.”
The Tico leader said that while other countries have the “luxury” of subsidizing economic shutdowns, Costa Rica can no longer afford the “Bono Proteger” that had provided some economic relief earlier in the pandemic.
“Protecting the greatest number of people and maintain the largest number of jobs while caring for the mental health of our people: That is one of the biggest challenges we have faced,” Alvarado said.
The Costa Rican government this week announced a limited set of restrictions despite pressure from the healthcare system to enact more significant measures.
Most commercial businesses can operate with some capacity restrictions, schools are offering in-person learning, and borders remain open to incoming tourists.
On Wednesday, Costa Rica recorded 3,173 new cases of the coronavirus, a new record. Meanwhile, 1,320 people are hospitalized with Covid-19, including 487 in an ICU bed, which has impacted the public-health system’s ability to provide quality and timely care for all patients.
But Costa Rica’s unemployment remains elevated at 18.7%, an increase of more than 6 percentage points compared to the same time last year.