Covid-19 Cases in Nicaragua Continue Unreported

The NGO Observatorio Ciudadano [“Citizens’ People waiting outside the emergency room at the German-Nicaraguan Hospital in Managua. Photo: EFE / Confidencial
The Citizen’s Observatory has received 290 reports of suspected Covid-19 cases, while the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health only admits to 11 cases, three of which have died.

By Ivette Munguia (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – A doctor at the “Bertha Calderon” Hospital in Managua, two construction workers, and a worker at the Nicaraguan Supreme Court are a few of the supposed Covid-19 cases that should have come to light in the last several days, but which haven’t been reported by the Ministry of Health (Minsa).

The case of the doctor was made public last April 20 in a number of national media outlets.  Initially, the doctor’s case was confused with that of another 58-year-old patient, whose case had been reported by Minsa that same day. However, the patient in that report turned out to be a worker at Nicaragua’s “Augusto C. Sandino” International Airport, who died on the morning of Thursday, April 23.

The sister of the infected doctor, who identifies herself only as “Melba”, stated in an interview with the internet news site “100% Noticias” [100% News] that her sibling remains hospitalized at the German-Nicaraguan Hospital, and that he must have been infected with the virus at his workplace, since he hasn’t travelled recently.

“When a doctor becomes infected, there’s a long chain of contagion.  Minsa should inform the public that he was a health worker and announce that they’re going to check his patients carefully. I accuse the Health Ministry and the regime of playing with the health of the Nicaraguan people,” the woman said  on the news station.

NGO coordinates unofficial count

Although the Health Ministry has only reported 11 confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus – three deceased, one currently hospitalized, and seven in recovery – the organization Observatorio Ciudadano, which is monitoring the pandemic’s behavior in Nicaragua, reports 290 apparently infected people in all parts of the country.

The latest citizen report, dated Wednesday, April 22, lists the departments with the most cases as: Managua, with 85 cases; Esteli, with 27; Masaya, 26; Matagalpa, 24; the South Caribbean with 20; Chinandega, 15; Granada, 14; Madriz, 14; Leon, 11; and Rivas, 11.

The organization accuses Minsa of continuing to put out “incomplete, confusing and contradictory” information regarding suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19, adding that the Ministry has also failed to clarify situations such as the two supposed cases at a construction project. “The silence of the involved companies is also of concern,” the organization emphasized.

In addition to the reported cases, there have been 44 registered deaths in 12 departments from pneumonia, heart attacks and other “suspicious situations.”

Two construction workers reported infected

Two supposed cases of Covid-19 were reported by the newspaper La Prensa, when the president of the Nicaraguan Chamber of Construction Leslie Martinez confirmed to reporters that there were “two cases of contacts” at a construction project that would be attended to in the public sector.

“I hope that these people overcome their crisis, and that it doesn’t go any further. This wasn’t reported to the Chamber of Construction because it’s not a matter involving any agreement with our chamber. I only know that they’ve been hospitalized and are being attended to by the public health system. I can’t say anymore because I don’t know (any more details),” Martinez stated.

The businesswoman didn’t offer the name of the construction company where the two men supposedly infected with Covid-19 were working, so that it’s also unknown what kind of measures were implemented to avoid more workers becoming infected.

Rumors at the Nicaraguan Supreme Court

In the Nicaraguan Supreme Court, staff were in a state of alarm this past Thursday, April 23, due to rumors of a supposed case of Covid-19. According to reports from several of the national media outlets, an official at the Supreme Court is rumored to be in quarantine- together with his wife and son.

Anonymous sources cited by a national newspaper, stated that the last time the supposedly infected worker came to the Supreme Court would have been for a swearing in of witnesses, lawyers and notary publics. “In those meetings, people press close together and there’s a lot of contact, because they have to sign documents. I believe that this is the result of not taking any measures for the pandemic,” the article quotes the source.

Hours after this case began circulating on social media, the Supreme Court posted a communique on its website stating that the rumor was false.  “We are all well; we lament this type of publication that attempts to affect not only our family, but also the Judicial Power,” the document reads.

Preventive measures outlined

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court then became the first of the government branches to orient its personnel to take “preventive and protective measures” in the face of the Covid-19 threat.

In a memo, Alba Luz Ramos, president of the Supreme Court, ordered that alcohol in liquid and gel form, disinfectants, as well as face masks and gloves should be distributed through all the offices and courtrooms of the Judicial Branch, prioritizing those personnel “who attend daily”.

“The security guards should be duly protected with gloves and face masks, and, in addition, alcohol and personal disinfectant should be used by personnel and users who come to the installations of the Judicial Powers,” indicates a memo posted on April 23.

Among the institutional measures, the Sandinista magistrate ordered that all vehicles entering the different courthouses of the country must be decontaminated via fumigation.

The Judicial Powers also noted other measures that they will apply: sending home all personnel who have more than seven accumulated vacation days; prohibiting the presence of prisoners’ family members at the hearings; and setting up external windows to request and deliver legal certificates.  

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