The fifth wave of COVID-19 has been going on for two months and it doesn’t look like it will stop

The fifth wave of COVID-19 in Puerto Rico began in the second week of March, and since then the increase has been steady, rising to the largest epidemic crisis in May, with at least 119,000 cases and 141 deaths reported. virus.

The scenario was recognized by the Department of Health in its latest report on the situation of the COVID-19 epidemic in Puerto Rico, and the panorama looks bleak for the elderly, considering the deaths reported in the month, 91% occurred among 60-year-olds or more, and they are the populations most affected by SARS-CoV-2 throughout the pandemic.

This was mentioned by Director of Research at the Public Health Trust and a biochemist, Marcos Lopez Casillas, who highlighted that the flexibility issued by the government last April had paid the price for the loss of control to contain the virus, whose community transmission reached an extreme (red).

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health in its latest epidemiological report, which analyzes data from May 15-21, has a final comment on the last 18 pages of the summary alerting the following: “[…] We highlight that epidemiological week 20 reflects the largest number of outbreaks detected by research teams since this report was published (in September 2021), and that May 16, 2022 was the day with the largest number of outbreaks. The number of cases (8428) and the occurrence of 7 days after the start of this wave. Similarly, it was confirmed that in the same seven-day period there were 33 deaths.

For this purpose, the report indicates that during the period from May 15 to 21 on the island, 31.1% were positive and 25,868 cases were discovered through molecular and antigen tests. In terms of hospitalizations, as of May 22, Puerto Rico was on an increasing trend with 359 people and 41 people being admitted to intensive care units.

In addition, 1,613 outbreaks have been identified, including 8,314 infections and 7,947 contacts. 75.1% of outbreaks occurred in family settings, while 21% were identified in educational institutions.

“This wave, if we look at it positively, started in mid-March and that was when we (the scientific community) started to raise our voices. At that time, specifically on March 10, the positivity was at 2.1% and less than 200 cases were recorded per day on average. , and eventually it started to rise little by little and didn’t stop. By the 1st of April we were at 4.8% positivity and an average of 460 cases per day. At the moment we have more than 30% positivity and an average of 4500 cases per day. The trend has been going up Little by little it hasn’t decreased, as happened with the alpha wave at Easter 2021. This is what worries us. We understand that removing all restrictions is what maintains this pattern of increase and does not allow hospital admissions to decline. And the worst thing is that as of Tuesday We’ll see the Memorial Weekend effect,” the professor at the University of Puerto Rico noted.

What scientists are concerned about is that of the 119,068 cases reported so far in May, 20% of people are 60 or older. There is also analysis indicating that of the month’s infections, 6,477 matched the 0 to 5 year group, a group that still could not receive the vaccine. For comparison, he explained, cases reported in February, March and April were lower than those actually accumulating in 28 days in May. For example, in February 12376 was detected; In March they were 8,201 and in April 65868.

“When we will analyze the deaths that occurred in May, we have 141 cases, while in March there were 38 and in April 42. However, of these 141 deaths, we have that 91%, or 128, were in people aged 60 or over This again shows that these are the populations that are susceptible to disease, hospitalization and mortality. That is why it is important that prevention measures continue with the use of masks and hand washing and that people who have not been vaccinated or need a booster go to get these doses,” he said. The scientist said, adding that there were about 195,000 people in the group. Demographics 60 and older who have not kept up with vaccinations.

It should be noted that among the deaths that occurred in May, there is a minor under the age of 15 who died on the 4th of this month in the Arecibo region. In addition, four deaths have been reported among people between the ages of 100 and 105. In total, 4,359 COVID-19-related deaths have been recorded on the island during more than two years of the pandemic.

What will happen?

According to López Casillas, the panorama related to the COVID epidemic in Puerto Rico is not favorable, as there are no restrictive measures to contain community transmission.

“The problem we have now is that we have had exacerbated events such as fairs, Mother’s Day, graduation and mega events where many people have been infected because they were events that were not well controlled. And while it is true that most outbreaks happen in family events, it should also be Taking action in this other type of activity … The fact is that since there are no health measures in place, it is very difficult to contain the problem and I do stress not to see the situation improve in the summer.”

“People generally feel that coronavirus is no longer around and it is being treated as just another cold. Herein lies the danger. This will contribute to more cases during the summer when there are more activities and more travelers arrive. This is with the risk of sub-variables arriving. than omicron BA.4 and BA.5, which are more transmissible. This swelling can persist for a long time.”

For its part, the Department of Health resorted, in its report, to suggesting mitigation measures that include the use of masks, hand washing, physical distancing, choosing activities in open spaces that are not crowded, and continuing to promote vaccination.

At the same time, they talk about ensuring faithful compliance with the implementation of guidelines and protocols in accordance with High Level 3 for community transmission and High Level 4 for COVID-19 community (mega-events, educational institutions, health facilities, care facilities .drag on).

However, these protocols were modified in April by Minister Carlos Melado, who said that “after two years of the pandemic, and having the tools to combat COVID-19, it is not necessary that we continue to impose restrictions and restrictions.”

For his part, Governor Pedro Pierluisi reiterated the need for people to protect themselves individually and stressed that “this is not the stage of issuing (executive) orders”.

Both insisted on monoclonal therapies and antiviral tablets, as well as vaccination, measures that will help control relapse in cases.

It’s important, Melado said, that once a person is positive for the molecular test or antigen test, they go to their primary care doctor or clinic to look for available treatments. Antiviral treatments include baxlovid and molnopivar.

COVID-19 treatments are specifically against SARS-CoV-2 that prevent severe symptoms, hospitalization, or death. They are prescribed for people with mild to moderate symptoms, who are within the first five to 10 days of onset of symptoms and who have risk factors for the progression of COVID-19.

It’s important to know if you qualify for COVID-19 treatments as soon as possible after diagnosis. Those interested in information can call (787) 522-3985.

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