In Latin America, the first COVID-19 confirmed case was detected in Costa Rica, a country of 5,000,000 people with only one doctor per 1,000 citizens. However, what may have been an ingredient for a health emergency has become a success story of the pandemic.
On May 27, Costa Rica had reported ten deaths, 956 cases, and 634 recoveries. These numbers are comparable with New Zealand’s record, a country with advanced medical facilities. Costa Rica’s COVID report is an example of excellently managing the virus.
So, how has Costa Rica been very effective in suppressing the virus?
How has it achieved excellent results like New Zealand?
Below are five reasons that can answer these questions. Read on to know more!
1. Emphasizing Health First
Costa Rica provides competitive universal health care to its citizens, despite being dubbed as a third world country. It covers almost 95 percent of the nation’s population. According to WHO, Costa Rica has one of the highest life expectancy (79.91years) in the world, due to less severe health gradient and continuous support of the nation’s universal health care.
The country has approximately thirty clinics and hospitals, and nearly a thousand basic comprehensive care at the local level. Costa Rica also established a specially-designed center for people with coronavirus disease in a span of a few weeks, with all the supplies and equipment needed to treat the patients.
Moreover, those who tested positive for the virus are mandated to isolate or confine themselves in their homes for fourteen days. Additionally, these patients receive daily face-to-face or telephone follow-up by a medical team.
2. A Very Quick Response
When the novel coronavirus was deemed pandemic, Costa Rica based its actions and decisions on scientific evidence. Thus, putting the protection of health and preservation of life before other matters, like politics.
Also, President Carlos Alvarado delegated Daniel Salas, an epidemiology expert, to lead the country’s response to the crisis as a Minister of Health. The State already had preparedness and care plans for probable pandemics thanks to its past experiences with SARS, AH1N1 influenza, and avian influenza.
Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, himself joined in as part of the technical teams and coordinator of the Health Surveillance Directorate of the Ministry. Salas, together with the Roman Macaya, president of the Social Security Fund, became authorities and benchmarks for the whole nation to stop the spread and prevent infections.
Costa Rica implemented strict measures that consist of the closure of schools and universities, sanitary vehicle restrictions, and more. Above all, the authorities decided to place the World Health Organization or Pan American Health Organization as an international leader and reference in its response against the virus. They carried out global recommendations and guidelines firmly.
Moreover, Costa Rica developed its own Coronavirus Testing Kits without so much dependence on the international market. Costa Rica plans to adopt protocols to change stages or parts of commercial testing kits while employing reagents and lower-demand inputs. Authorities hope to make their nationally produced test kits soon.
3. Refraining Complacency
The Minister of Health announces the very same warning every day at his evening press conference. According to Salas, we need to be very careful, we can’t get too relaxed, and we must follow all the health protocols.
Gradually, the Costa Rica government decided to lift some of its measures with confidence as per the results obtained so far. Some businesses can start reopening, with limited capacity. Also, certain individual sports can be done in open areas.
4. Acts Responsibly
All the measures taken and implemented by the government created a mutual trust and a strong sense of responsibility between the authorities and the public. Generally, people have followed the call to practice proper hygiene measures such as staying at home, hand washing, social distancing, and more.
Many community organizations, foundations, and companies are sending out food and help to those who are greatly impacted by the economic slowdown. Other companies have worked together with the government concerning medicine distribution. Also, there are many examples of solidarity and support from the public.
5. Robust Institutional Support
Most of the institutions in Costa Rica were ready to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, the National Liquor Factory’s production was changed to the production of alcohol gel, and the Post Office was responsible for distributing the alcohol gel all over the country.
Moreover, public universities focused on creating respirators to strengthen and equip the ICUs in the country. Additionally, the National Learning Institute made thousands of PPEs to help the frontliners. All of these supports helped the government in containing the virus.
Costa Rica is not claiming victory against the pandemic because the nation has not won the battle yet. The government and authorities know that there are still many hurdles and bumps ahead to encounter. Although the battle is not yet over, the numbers reported so far prove that Costa Rica has done something right, and other countries may get insights on how to manage the pandemic better through the efforts of this country.