Health authorities are in the process of importing the coveted vaccines against covid-19 to start the massive vaccination campaign.
- Social Security photo -

Published Monday, December 21, 2020

ICUs almost out of beds,
health authorities warn

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Health authorities announced the strategy for continuous covid-19 monitoring of Intensive Care Unit beds as they are almost at capacity.

According to Daniel Salas, Minister of Health, about a third of covid-19 patients who enter ICUs will experience kidney failure, requiring critical care attention. "This puts us at the risk of not being able to give them the support that these patients require. We need to react, the health system is not infinite and we are reaching a highly dangerous situation," Salas said.

Representatives of the Emergency Care Center and Social Security met this weekend to analyze the hospital capacity of beds for covid-19 patients in the network of clinics and public hospitals which currently present a high occupancy.

"Social Security still has beds in ICUS for the care of covid-19 patients," confirmed Mario Ruiz-Cubillo, medical manager of the organization. "This is a very dynamic process, which brings us closer and closer to maximum capacity."

However, according to Ruiz, coordinated work is being done in national hospitals to determine where new covid-19 patients can be attended.

The authorities call on the public to apply the measures, already known, to prevent the spread of the virus, such as practicing a safe social distance, washing hands constantly, using a facemask, not leaving the house, and in case of having to leave the house for an urgent matter avoid crowds.

The lack of application of sanitary measures is what makes the virus spread easily, authorities said.

"If the trend of increasing demand for hospitalization services due to covid-19 continues, we will be exceeding our bed capacity and we will face the painful situation that other countries have experienced," Ruiz said. "Social Security has done its part. It is up to people to be responsible for taking care of their health and of others."

The country is in the process of importing the coveted vaccines against covid-19 to start the massive vaccination campaign.

According to the Ministry of Health, the type of population that will receive the first set of vaccines against covid-19 depends on the level of exposure the person has to being infected with the virus. That will establish priority.

This way, the elderly who live in nursing homes, the nursing home workers, health workers, and the police force, will be the first to receive the vaccine.

The second established group of people, are people 58-years-old or older, regardless of whether or not they have any risk factors.

A third group of the population that will receive the vaccine are people between the ages of 18 and 58 years old who present certain risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, chronic kidney disease, obesity and cancer.

A fourth group of the population that will receive the vaccine are the Ministry of Public Education workers, the workers of the private education system, the workers of children's shelters, the workers and prisoners of the penitentiary system.

The last group to be vaccinated will be health science students, technicians who work at Social Security, people between the ages of 40 and 57. And those who carry out work activities related to contact with people or whose activity is of great importance for the productive sector of the country.

Last week,  the ministry authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against covid-19, based on the recognition of the authorization for emergency use from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, kicking off the mass vaccination campaign beginning in the first half of 2021.

In October, the government has signed three agreements for the purchase of the vaccine against covid-19, with Pfizer-BioNTech for three million doses.

Also, the government signed an agreement with the British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to buy one million doses of its vaccine, AZD1222, developed together with the University of Oxford in England.

The government joined the COVAX-Facility program coordinated by the World Health Organization for two million doses.

These six million doses bought through the National Emergency Commission will protect three million people against covid-19, at two doses per person.

While the country awaits the arrival of vaccines, covid-19 continues to spread quickly throughout the country, according to the latest statistics on the evolution of the virus provided by the ministry on Friday, as follow:

• 1,084 new covid-19 cases, bringing the total to 29,988 active cases.

• 21,156 foreign-born people have been infected, totaling 157,472 cases since March, approximately 13.4% of the total cases. Of these, authorities confirmed the death of 32 foreign-born patients. But since October, there is no updated information about foreign-born deaths due to covid-19.

• 625 patients are being treated in public hospitals, where 254 patients are in ICU’s in delicate health conditions (ages range from 1 to 92-years-old). And 371 patients are in recovery rooms. Many of the remaining infected patients are quarantined in their homes.

• 125,488 coronavirus patients have fully recovered, which is a 79.7% recovery rate of the total cases since March.

• 453,805 covid-19 tests have been performed in Costa Rica since March, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering of Johns Hopkins University.

• 1,996 covid-19 related deaths, approximately 1.3% death rate of the total cases since March. Of these 754 women and 1,242 men. The ages range from a 9-year-old to a 101-year-old person.

Readers can see the updated number of total patients in each district at the National Distance Education University on its Covid-19 Map.

According to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering, CSSE, at Johns Hopkins University, the pandemic has killed 1,692,578 people worldwide.

Should health authorities allow people to buy the vaccine against covid-19 in private hospitals or drugstores? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to


Facebook110217.jpg twitter110217.jpg