More than 6,000 deaths related to Covid-19 were excluded from the official statistics. Photo: Nayira Valenzuela | Confidencial

Nicaragua ranks as the Central American country with the most deaths linked to the pandemic, although the Government only admits 153.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – Between January and August 2020, the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health (MINSA) reported 10,722 deaths due to pneumonia, diabetes, hypertension and heart attack, corresponding to more than 6,000 deaths compared to the average number of deaths registered from these causes between 2017 and 2019. An analysis carried out by Confidencial, based on the official death statistics published by MINSA, concluded that this excess mortality corresponds to Covid-19 deaths that the regime hides and justifies as “comorbidity.”

The analysis is based on the data published in the Health Map issued by MINSA. It reveals that the average number of deaths per day due to these diseases nationwide went from 19 people between 2017 and 2019, to 44 people in only the first eight months of 2020.

The classification of deaths from other diseases instead of Covid-19 is a practice MINSA implemented since May. That was when the curve of coronavirus infections began and, in the country, the first thirty deaths from Covid-19 .

On May 12, when the latest daily report on the progress of the pandemic in Nicaragua was read, the Secretary General of MINSA, Carlos Saenz, admitted that in the country there were deaths of people “being monitored” for Covid-19. However, he said they died from other causes, thus excluding them from the official count of deaths from the pandemic.  According to the Government the death toll since March is 153.

“During the first 12 days of May, there were three deaths attributable to Covid-19, said Saenz. He noted there were other deaths in people who were under follow-up. These he said were caused by “pulmonary thromboembolism, diabetes mellitus, acute myocardial infarction, hypertensive crisis and bacterial pneumonias.”

Thus, the Government introduced the term “comorbidities,” with which it justifies the deaths from Covid-19 every week. They hid the real figures of the pandemic, while speedy and almost clandestine burials became the norm.

The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) acknowledged the following in an interview conducted in August. “PAHO believes that the increase in mortality in Nicaragua is directly and indirectly related to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Nicaragua leads Central America in Covid-19 deaths

Through October 6, the Center for Natural Disaster Prevention in Central America and the Dominican Republic, reported 10.239 deaths from Covid-19 in Central America.

This registry showed Nicaragua ranking second to last in the region with 153 deaths, only above Belize, with 30 deaths.

However, when considering excess mortality data and adding them to the 153 deaths from Covid-19 that the Government recognizes, the country is in first place, with 6,195 deaths. Second is Guatemala, where the official number of deaths from the pandemic is 3,310 people.

However, even with this data, it is impossible in Nicaragua to obtain an estimate on the deadliness of the pandemic. The real number of infected is also unknown, which MINSA hides through confusing figures of additions and subtractions of contagions, those who supposedly recovered and people in “responsible and careful monitoring.” The latter being a term invented by the Ortega government.

Today, MINSA accumulates 5,264 infections while the independent Covid-19 Citizens Observatory records 10.631 suspected cases. The Observatory is comprised by a network of doctors and volunteers, throughout Nicaragua.

However, the Observatory data is only a trend. They are unable to follow the real data on the infections in rural areas. In addition, the cases cannot be confirmed as positive, although they present symptoms, complications or even die. The Government controls access to Covid-19 tests and does not reveal the number taken or their results.

In August 2020, a leak made by the hacker group Anonymous about the PCR tests that were carried out at the National Center for Diagnostics and Reference (CNDR), showed that until the tenth of that month MINSA showed 10,195 Nicaraguans positive for Covid-19. These unpublished test results, being twice the number of cases that the MINSA recognized by then.

More than 1500 deaths between July and August

President Ortega admitted in his July 19 speech that between March and June 2020, 12,100 people died in Nicaragua. An analysis of data on excess mortality compared to 2019, carried out by health expert Carlos Hernandez revealed that some 4,429 of those deaths would be attributable to Covid-19 through June.

The accumulated excess mortality two months later, indicates that another 1,613 Nicaraguans who died officially from pneumonia, diabetes, heart attack, or hypertension, had actually died from Covid-19 between July and August.

The updated MINSA Health Map also includes the registry of chronic patients that shows a considerable increase compared to 2019. For example, diabetic patients increase by 31.89% during the first eight months of this year, going from 84,846 to 111,901. And, in the case of cardiac patients, from 15,908 to 44,214. Additionally, an increase of 83.99% is reported in cases of asthmatics. This, for the experts, could have as a background the “justification” of excess mortality.

“I cannot assure it, but it is the only way that it can be interpreted. It appears an attempt to minimize precisely the analysis of excess mortality. They are preparing to argue that the excess mortality is not true, justifying that there were more cases of chronic ailments,” health expert Carlos Hernandez told Confidencial at the end of September.

MINSA increases deaths from diabetes and heart attacks

Statistics from recent years show that between 2017 and 2019, eight persons died per day of heart attacks in Nicaragua. However, between January and August 2020, deaths rose to 16, resulting in an excess mortality of eight per day.

The same happened with deaths from diabetes. The previous three years showed an average of six deaths per day, while this year an average of 13 die.

Likewise, in cases of hypertension, it went from three to five deaths per day. Meanwhile, deaths from pneumonia were the ones that increased the most, going from two deaths daily between 2017 and 2019, to an average of 11 deaths a day in 2020. That is, they increased six times.

The latest official data that was known about the situation of pneumonia in Nicaragua was provided on September 27. According to the health authorities, from January to that date, 58,967 cases were attended, and 2,625 people had died. The figure represents eight times more in relation to the same period of 2019, they admitted. Thus, the lethality of this disease went from 0.37% in 2019 to 4.45% in 2020.

The historical record of the Health Map shows Chinandega as the department with the highest increase in deaths from pneumonia. This department was precisely the epicenter of the first outbreak of Covid-19 in Nicaragua. In the last three years, deaths in Chinandega did not exceed 41 cases; in contrast, between January and August of this year 493 people died, giving an increase of 1,133%.

SARS-CoV-2 exacerbates “comorbidity” in patients

Deaths from other comorbidities were also recognized in the “White Paper: Report on Covid-19 and a unique strategy,” published by the Government in May.

However, medical sources confirmed in the report “Regime uses ‘comorbidity’ to reduce the lethality of Covid-19,” carried out by Confidencial, that the true cause of these deaths is Covid-19. The contagion of coronavirus worsened the pre-existing condition of patients, causing their death. But not on the government’s registry.

“What Covid-19 is doing is accelerating the deaths of people who are infected, noted epidemiologist Rafael Amador. “Those with a poorly treated chronic illness, and who arrived late to the hospital to be treated.”

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