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Health Ministry asks for caution in face of Delta variant

The Health Ministry this week asked the Costa Rican public to exercise increased caution with coronavirus measures given the impending arrival of the Delta variant to the national territory.

The Institute for Nutrition and Health Research (INCIENSA) has not yet detected the more-transmissible variant in Costa Rica, but Health Minister Daniel Salas warned of “the risk posed by the eventual circulation” of Delta.

“Despite the fact that the Delta variant has been shown to be transmitted more easily, the self-care measures that we all know as hand washing, the correct use of the mask, physical distancing, the ventilation of common spaces and the protocol of coughing and sneezing continues to be effective tools against the virus, in any of its variants,” Salas said.

Vaccines — including the Pfizer and AstraZeneca formulas administered in Costa Rica — appear to be effective against the Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta variants of SARS-CoV-2.

“However, given the percentage of the population vaccinated, and the progress of the campaign that responds directly to the amount of vaccines received, it is vital to continue with prevention measures,” a Health Ministry statement reads.

About 32% of Costa Ricans have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the latest update.

INCIENSA told El Observador that its genomics laboratory is “constantly monitoring” to detect the different variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that occur in Costa Rica. If an when the Delta variant is identified, “the corresponding notification and communication will be carried out.” 

The Delta variant, first identified in India, is around 50% more transmissible than the Alpha variant (B.1.1.7) identified in the United Kingdom in late 2020, though precise estimates vary, The New York Times reports.

In the United States, it now accounts for about 25% of sequenced virus samples, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cited by The New York Times.

Some areas in the U.S. and elsewhere are reconsidering restrictions as the variant spreads.

“In countries where vaccination rates remain low, including many low- and middle-income countries that have struggled to get access to vaccines, Delta could be disastrous,” The New York Times writes.

Costa Rica has not imposed any new measures associated with the Delta variant. You can review the country’s restrictions here. 

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