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Costa Rica and Panama in times of Coronavirus

Written by Marisol

The world-wide pandemic has devastated the world’s health care systems. Poorer and underdeveloped countries have specially been hit hard by the current health crisis.

For years relocation organizations have been promoting Panama as a retirement haven. Panama’s drawing card is its low cost of living and perks  that it offers retirees. Boquete/David in northwest Panama and Panama City  are where most expat retirees choose to live. However, Costa Rica offers far more areas from which to choose.

One of most important factors that influences potential expats move to another country is the quality of health care that is offered. Good medical care can mark the difference between life and death as we age.

Panama’s health care system been hit hard by Covid—19. The country, with 4.2 million inhabitants, has the highest number of COVID-19 infections in Central America, with almost 300,000 accumulated cases and 4,828 deaths — double the rate of Costa Rica. The situation has caused the saturation of hospitals, some of which can no longer receive more patients. The government recently acknowledged the “critical state of the country’s hospital capacity.” “We are in a critical situation, of collapse. Things are not looking good ”, declared Domingo Moreno, coordinator of the main Panamanian medical union. Furthermore, the increase in cases has ended up exhausting health personnel, who have had to double shifts of up to 16 hours, between transfers and exhausting hours of waiting in hospitals. The situation is so bad that Panama has even enlisted the help of 220 Cuban doctors despite opposition from the United States. But more help is on the way!

Panama just received the first 12,840 doses of the vaccine from Pfizer / BioNtech against Covid-19, a smaller shipment than expected due to the production problems that the pharmaceutical in Europe as it upgrade the production facility, that is expected to normalize by mid February.  Panama is now the second country in Central America to have a vaccine against the new coronavirus, after Costa Rica, which expects more than six million doses from three pharmaceuticals: Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca.

On the other hand, despite having a total of 186,877 confirmed cases and 2,477 deaths related to Covid-19, Costa Rica now has thebest inmunization rate In Latin America.

According to the Our World in Data database from the University of Oxford that analyzed data from January 15 to 17, Costa Rica leads the rate of vaccinating against Covid-19 per 100 inhabitants:

  • Costa Rica 0.49 to January 15
  • Argentina 0.44 to January 15
  • Mexico 0.37 to January 17
  • Brazil 0.01 to January 17
  • Chile 0.01 to January 14

The bottom line is that although Costa Rica is more expensive than Panama its health care system is superior, especially in a time of crisis. Regarding the perks that Panama offers it’s official retirees, the Costa Rican government recently announced  a modified version of the country’s former Pensionado Law was proposed to attract more expat retirees. On September 9, 2020, a new bill called Law to Attract Investors, Rentiers or Rentistas (persons with independent means)  and Pensioners appeared in the official newspaper, La Gaceta. The purpose is to create new perks in order to attract retired people or those interested in living here or investing.

To find out more about living and daily life in Costa Rica or to have your questions answered, talk with Christopher Howard at 877-884-2502 or 011-506-8849-0081


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