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The lax safety precautions practiced among family and friends could play a role in the spiking increased infections.
 - A.M. Costa Rica illustrative photo -


Published Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Meeting people outside social bubble
increases the risk of contagion
by covid-19, experts say

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Testimonies of covid-19 patients who were infected when they met people outside their family nucleus, so-called social bubble, are published on Social Security’s social media pages, as part of a campaign on the importance of preventing contagion.

The campaign is based on information collected by health centers about the patient's behaviors. According to the information, patients had a low perception of risk of contagion when they made contact with friends or relatives. They eased up on practicing safe health measures.

The testimonials reveal the opposite when they met strangers. They would all practice safe health measures to avoid contagion.

According to Doy Navarro-Padilla, the campaign goal is to make people aware of the importance of taking care of themselves at all times, in all places.

"We know that we always associate safety with loved ones, but the measures of community transmission force us to remain to keep health measures with the social bubble and, even with them keeping social distance, that is a way to express protection," Navarro said.

According to specialists in Costa Rica, the lax safety precautions practiced among family and friends could play a role in the spiking increased infections.

People relax in reopening activities with close people without taking preventive measures and without being aware that they are infected.

"People feel safe with the family nucleus (or social bubble) with which they are most frequently in contact," Guiselle Guzmán-Saborío, an epidemiologist said. "But the danger is when a person has contact with other groups, at work, friends or family."

Experts recommend that each person, especially people belonging to high-risk groups from virus complications, keeps social distancing (even from family) as an additional measure of self-protection.

People who can spread the virus may also have no or mild symptoms such as a slight cough or a mild sore throat. These types of people are the ones who commonly spread the disease between groups, specialists said.

The false sense of security in having contact with groups of families (breaking the social bubble) is causing people to become careless, increasing the spread of the virus.

For example, specialists share the case of a man that during a bike ride had contact with a person diagnosed with covid-19. And he spread the virus to his family members, including those more vulnerable and high-risk.

Another common case scenario is when people meet with members of their family or friends, who do not belong to their social bubble. The emotion of seeing these people again, after being in quarantine, makes them forget basic precautionary measures such as social distance, which causes contagion between people.

Not all cases mentioned are precautionary tales. There are a few exemplary samples, such as the case of a man who must take the bus every day to go to work. Despite being exposed to the virus, this man maintains social distance and health measures to protect himself and his family.

According to the World Health Organization, WHO, people reduce the chances of being infected or spreading covid-19 by taking the following simple precautions:

• Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. This hygienic practice kills viruses that may be on your hands.

• Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and others. When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the covid-19 virus if the person has the disease.

• Avoid going to crowded places. You are more likely to come into close contact with someone that has covid-19 in crowded areas, as it is more difficult to maintain a physical distance of 1 meter (3 feet).

• Wear a fabric mask if there is widespread community transmission, especially where physical distancing cannot be enforced. Masks are a key tool in a comprehensive approach to the fight against covid-19.

• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and infect you.

• Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately and wash your hands because even droplets spread the virus. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and covid-19.

• Stay home and self-isolate even with minor symptoms such as cough, headache, mild fever, until you recover. Have someone bring you supplies. If you need to leave your house, wear a mask to avoid infecting others. Avoiding physical contact with others will protect them from possibly spreading or infecting others of covid-19.

•  If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, immediately seek medical attention, but call in advance if possible. Follow the directions of your local health authority. National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your healthcare provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent the spread of the virus and other infections.

• Stay informed on the latest information from trusted sources, such as WHO or your local and national health authorities. Local and national authorities are best sources to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.

The Social Bubble campaign can be reached at the Social Security Facebook page.

People must follow the detailed precautionary measures listed above to avoid the spread of the virus.

On Monday, the Ministry of Health shared the latest information on the statistics of the virus:

730 new covid-19 cases, bringing the total to 43,433 active cases.

13,598 foreign-born people have been infected with a total of 73,714 cases since March, approximately 18.4% of the total cases.

• 617 patients are being treated in public hospitals, where 228 patients are in ICU’s in delicate health conditions (ages range from 1-year-old baby to a 91-year-old person). And 389 patients are in recovery rooms. The majority of the rest of the infected patients are quarantined in their homes.

• 29,420 coronavirus patients have fully recovered, which is a 39.9% recovery rate of the total cases since March.

• 135,326 people have been ruled out.

• 224,515 medical covid-19 tests have been made.

861 deaths of people infected with covid-19, approximately 1.2% death rate of the total cases since March. Of these 336 were women and 525 men. The ages range from 19 to a 100-year-old person.

As of Aug. 31, authorities confirmed the death of 31 foreign-born patients. The youngest and most recent reported foreign-born victim victim was a 19-year-old woman who lived in Guanacaste Province. Before then, on July 30, the ministry announced they would not provide updated information on foreign-born people who died from covid-19 in the country, which at the time authorities reported 30 had died from the virus since March.

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

As of Monday night, the pandemic has killed 1,002,394 patients worldwide, according to recent statistics reported by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

What other advice do you have for people to avoid the spread of covid-19? 
We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

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