June 12, 2021

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Epidemiologist warns of an increase in infections

The epidemiologist José Becerra warned yesterday that COVID-19 community infections in Puerto Rico increased in June and that the rise coincides with the economic reopening and the almost elimination of movement restrictions that were implemented to contain the spread of this disease that has killed more than 500,000 people worldwide.

Becerra explained that around March 30, when quarantine completed its second week, the rate of diagnostic tests (known as PCR or molecular) with positive results began to decrease, an issue that was reversed after June 16, the date on which the executive order that eliminated most of the mitigation measures became effective.

In addition to the rate of positive diagnostic tests, the Simple counting of confirmed cases shows a rebound, the expert explained.

“Two indices are used simultaneously to assess community transmission of SARS-CoV-2: the PCR positive people (epidemic curve) and positivity of molecular tests. Both indices are consistently revealing the same signal: increased community transmission "said the retired epidemiologist from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

" The rate positivity has increased significantly in the month of June (from 0.3% to an estimate of 2.1 ). This has coincided with the increase in community mobility documented by Google COVID-19 Mobility Reports. Those increases are not yet consistently reflected in hospital statistics, "said the epidemiologist.

By the end of March, this positivity rate was around 10%.

The increase in infections is not immediately reflected in the statistics. Regarding hospitalizations, the use of intensive care units or ventilators, since from the moment the disease is detected until the person needs specialized services -in cases where the clinical picture is complicated- it can take several weeks. The same is true of fatalities that are currently on the decline, Becerra explained.

The epidemiologist stressed that the government still has a health infrastructure and a fragile computer network and explained that if the outbreaks that If they are detected, they go out of control, and partial mitigation or lockdown measures must be resumed before the capacity of the Puerto Rican hospital system is compromised. .

mitigation measures. It is also important that the citizens observe meticulously the personal protection measures (hygiene, physical distance, use of masks) to minimize contagions, "he said.

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