How Masaya, Nicaragua Became a Covid-19 Hot Spot

The Masaya stadium. Photo: Genesis Hernandez from Twitter

On the social media site, Masaya journalist explains how not canceling sporting events has led directly to an increase in Coronavirus cases.

Por Yader Luna  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The last report of the independent organization “COVID-19 Citizens’ Observatory” counts 1,569 suspected cases of Coronavirus in Nicaragua. Of these, 194 are in Masaya, the department with the third most numerous reports of COVID-19 cases.

The atmosphere on the streets of the city is fear-laden, although it seems to have come too late, after hundreds came out to watch the baseball playoffs. Journalist Genesis Hernandez warned on a Twitter thread how not observing social distancing measures could make this city a focus of the pandemic.

“As a resident of Masaya, I want to explain the relationship between these two photos. One is a note from the newspaper La Prensa where its states that Masaya is one of the three COVID-19 hot spots in Nicaragua, while in the other we see the “Roberto Clemente” baseball stadium [in Masaya],” she narrates on Twitter.

She then mentions that the sporting locale is located right beside Masaya’s low-income San Juan neighborhood, the “hot spot within the hot spot” of COVID-19 infections, a fact that even the church parish has warned of.

“Due to the latest occurrences in the San Juan neighborhood, where two people have died from Covid-19, we wish to inform that masses will be suspended until further notice. We join together in prayer with the Holy Rosary from our homes, pleading for an end to the pandemic,” indicated a communique from the church parish.

Medical sources from Masaya told Confidencial that the situation in the department has worsened over the last few days, and that on two occasions at least two deaths have been reported in a day.

Warnings ignored

“Since the end of April, they put emphasis on the ‘unnecessary risk’ of continuing with the sporting events in the country. The baseball league continued with no restrictions, and during the first round the Masaya stadium reported nearly full crowds. The worst thing? It’s continued that way,” Hernandez writes on Twitter.

The Masaya baseball stadium.

She also explains that “if you pass by” the esplanade beside the stadium “in a vehicle, on the day of a home game for our adored local team the San Fernando Beasts, you’ll see all of that full of people, as if nothing were happening.”

This terrifying scene forced other members of the population to publish pleas on social media: “Please, for yourselves, for your children, your families, our families, our elders, for whatever it is that interests you in your life, please, don’t go to the stadium. That can cause many more deaths,” read a message from a Masaya resident.

“Tell me if seeing these photos doesn’t give you the shivers. There’s the date. Do the math: from May first to today’s date. COVID-19 Molotov cocktail,” writes the Masaya journalist about one of the causes of the massive Coronavirus spread in the City of the Flowers.

Big crowds and the players with no protection or social distancing.

“Zero social distancing, zero protective measures, and truly the effects are for everyone. Players, the public, everyone,” she adds in another tweet, where she posts an image of the players embracing.

In addition, she shares images of the invitations to the games posted on the social media accounts of the San Fernando team and the Masaya mayor. “Let’s just think about how whoever goes to the stadium comes from all parts of Masaya, and in their going and returning passes by grocery stores, fried food stands or fruit vendors. Those who guard the bicycles and cars do business, and the crowding is incredible. Does someone win? We all lose,” she concludes.

“Many people have died. People I know, friends’ family members. My whole family lives here. We’ve lived here all our lives. I really feel that COVID-19 is riding on our backs. The Mayor’s office only makes fun of us, our San Fernando team too. What an outrage,” Hernandez laments.