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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Northern Costa Rica, tourist destinations are Covid-19 hotspots: researchers

A report from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) says the Northern Zone and tourist destinations are the focal points of the current Covid-19 epidemic in Costa Rica.

The UCR says the relative incidence of Covid-19 is high and increasing in the following three areas:

  • The communities of the Northern Zone, which have registered 113% more infections than expected given their population and their socioeconomic characteristics. The incidence of Covid-19 in these communities has been increasing since mid-June.
  • The 20 districts comprising Costa Rica’s main tourist destinations, which have registered 82% more cases than expected. The UCR did not identify those 20 districts. However, it cited Cóbano (which contains Santa Teresa, Malpaís and Montezuma), where 224 cases were reported in the last week per 10,000 adults. This is six times more cases than three weeks ago and nine times the national average.
  • The 53 communities where immigrants are most highly concentrated. There, the relative incidence of Covid-19 is 35% higher than expected.

“The data tell us that the incidence is much higher than in the center of the country. The cases are growing more than in other places and the trend continues. We could say that these are sources of infection and transmission,” Luis Rosero Bixby, coordinator of the analysis, told La Nación.

Rosero also cited La Fortuna as an area with a concerning amount of cases per capita.

Costa Rica’s public data identifies total cases by canton, but it does not normalize the numbers based on population. It also does not identify cases in tourists, many of whom are required to be tested before returning to their home country.

Projections for 2021

Given the spread of the Delta variant in Costa Rica, the UCR acknowledged herd immunity may be unlikely in 2021 given the high vaccination rates necessary.

“If the above-mentioned high contagiousness of the Delta variant is true, it is unlikely that the country will achieve complete collective immunity this year given the high percentages (93 to 98) of immunization that would be required,” the report reads.

“However, it is possible that before the end of the year more or less controlled situations of circulation of the virus that allow a certain degree of normality to be reached.”

Based on current understanding of the coronavirus and vaccination rates, the UCR anticipates Covid-19 hospitalizations will peak at about 1,000 people by the end of August. That figure would then drop to about 400 people by mid-October.

There are currently 967 people hospitalized with Covid-19 in Costa Rica. Of those, 399 are in the ICU. About 2.8 million Ticos have received at least one vaccine dose.

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