Costa Rica emerging from its worst Covid wave

The drop in new cases comes despite Costa Rica conducting significantly more tests.

In late April, we wrote about how the darkest moments of the pandemic had arrived in Costa Rica. Fifty days later, the country is finally emerging from its nightmare scenario.

Let’s look at the data:

New cases are trending down

After spiking to well over 2,000 new cases per day in May, the daily tally of new cases has dropped significantly through mid-June:

This plunge in new cases comes despite Costa Rica conducting significantly more tests. In June, the country is averaging 8,250 daily tests, compared to 5,550 in May.

The R value is below 1.0

The R value measures to how many people an infected person will spread the virus, on average. A number higher than one indicates cases will continue to go up; a value smaller than one suggests cases will decrease. 

The University of Costa Rica (UCR) estimates the R value in Costa Rica to be at 0.92 as of June 18.

“The country is in the descending phase of the pandemic wave thanks to the fact that the R rate is less than one,” the UCR analysis reads.

Hospitalizations and deaths are dropping 

These are, of course, the most important statistics of all. How many people are ending up in the hospital with Covid-19, and how many people are dying? 

Hospitalization numbers surged in late May and early June but have since dropped. The figures are still quite high — the 1,162 patients currently hospitalized with Covid-19 is impacting the country’s healthcare system — but are trending in the right direction:

Deaths are a lagging indicator, because it usually take weeks after a Covid-19 diagnosis for a patient to die. Still, after peaking in late May and early June, that too is slowly improving:

Since May 1, more than 1,240 people in Costa Rica have died of causes related to Covid-19. Hundreds of others have been hospitalized and may suffer long-term side effects. The “darkest moments” of the pandemic were a catastrophe, and Costa Rica isn’t in the clear quite yet.

But in a bit of good news, the UCR believes “a rapid drop in the number of deaths is expected, not only due to the lowering of the pandemic curve, but also due to the effect of preferential vaccination of the most vulnerable people.”


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