Covid surge has pushed hospitals in Costa Rica ‘to the limit’ –

Costa Rica’s social security system (Caja) says its capacity has been stretched “to the limit” by hospitalizations from Covid-19.

In a press release from La Caja, which manages Costa Rica’s public hospitals, medical director Mario Ruiz said the intensive care occupancy rate had reached “levels never recorded during the entire pandemic”.

Costa Rica reached 662 patients hospitalized for Covid-19 last week, surpassing previous highs in September and December 2020 (627 and 644 patients, respectively).

“The resources available are limited and there is no system in the world that can adequately respond to an accelerated increase like the one we find ourselves in now,” Ruiz said.

As of Saturday, 303 of the hospital patients were in an intensive care bed, and 60% of them were between 30 and 59 years old, detailed La Caja.

“This shows that the disease also presents complications in young people,” said Ruiz, although the demographics of severe disease could change as Costa Rica’s older population is vaccinated.

Surge after Semana Santa

The wave of new cases and hospitalizations comes less than a month after Easter Holy Week (Semana Santa), one of the most popular travel times of the year in Costa Rica. In an effort to support the economy, the government of the day did not impose measures to limit mobility.

Since Semana Santa, the average number of new daily cases has more than doubled.

“Given this steadily accelerated increase, it is materially impossible to meet the demand for patients with severe Covid and other pathologies that also compromise people’s lives,” said the Caja.

At the current rate, the hospital system could be saturated “in the next two weeks,” said Ruiz.

Particularly vulnerable are the 125 “critical” intensive care beds – of Costa Rica’s 348 intensive care beds – reserved for the most critical Covid patients. Only seven were empty on Saturday, which represents an occupancy rate of 94%.

Few new measures

Costa Rica has re-enforced its weekend driving measures and extended its night driving ban. These measures aim to limit mobility – which itself can reduce contagion – and also to limit the number of vehicles on the road during night periods when serious accidents frequently occur.

By reducing the number of auto accident victims that require hospitalization, beds can be reserved for Covid patients.

In addition to the stricter measures, Ruiz called on the population to take into account daily protocols.

“We all want to work, study and spend time with family and friends,” he said. “For this we need increased responsibility and commitment from each person at all times to take care of themselves and protect each other with hand washing, correct use of the mask. and distancing. ”

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