Second Covid Wave Begins in Nicaragua, Doctors Warn

Outside the emgercny area of the Nicaraguan-German Hospital in Managua, one of the main facilities receiving Covid-19 cases. Photo: Nayira Valenzuela

Experts say the government has left Nicaraguans “orphaned” in the pandemic. They ask the public to maintain protective measures.

By Ana Lucía Cruz (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The “resurgence” of Covid-19 has already begun, doctors warn. These same doctors have been on the frontlines of defense, battling the disease in the public and private hospitals. They note that – so far – the resurgence in infections is being seen mainly among young people.

“There’s definitely a renewed outbreak, that’s undeniable. For the moment, we’re seeing an ascending curve,” affirmed Carlos Quant. Quant, an infectious disease specialist, was interviewed on Sunday, December 20th, on the weekly internet news program Esta Semana.

The specialist affirmed he’s seen reports from the country’s public and private hospitals. These reveal “an increase in hospitalizations, and fewer doctors attending to a greater number of outpatient cases.” The same information indicates “a sevenfold increase in the number of positive tests processed by the Ministry of Health.”

Doctors Leonel Arguello and Magda Alonso coincided in their conclusion that a “new outbreak” has begun in Nicaragua. They emphasized the fact that this is being seen mainly in the youth, and among certain groups that are asymptomatic.

Alonso stated: “There number of cases are increasing” of Covid-19. On-line consultations are up from areas around Managua, Leon, and Masaya. Nonetheless, she noted, there are still “sporadic” online Covid consultations from Matagalpa. These, she indicated, continue being “concerning”.

Government has left Nicaraguans “orphaned”

During these months of the pandemic, experts indicated that the general population and the health personnel were left “orphaned”. They lacked information, protective equipment, campaigns to prevent infections, and training. All these showed the negligence of the Nicaraguan government.

Dr. Quant noted one consequence of this lack of government leadership. “People think that maybe the epidemic is under control, that now we’re a little better off. They began to see that not that many people were sick.”

Because of this, he believes, it’s “a matter of time” until the next wave begins to become noticeable. He pointed out: “For now, it’s the young people who are getting sick.” However, he warned: “Given the amount of movement in December, with no restrictions, this situation may begin to worsen. By the end of the year or beginning of the next, we could see the impact of mortality in older adults.”

The doctor indicated that this is the mechanism that could generate a “resurgence”. “Unfortunately, [it’s] the Government’s responsibility. During these months of the pandemic, they aren’t taking and haven’t taken, effective measures to control the outbreak of infections.”

The specialist also criticized the Nicaraguan government because: “They’ve never wanted to reveal the magnitude of the problem.” This, he affirmed, affects the way the pandemic has been confronted.

“You can’t confront a problem, if you’re minimizing it,” he commented.

The medical frontline in Nicaragua suffered huge mortality

Dr. Leonel Arguello offered a somber toll of the pandemic’s effect on health workers. “Nearly 900 health workers were sickened, and 111 died. That is, we’re talking about a mortality rate of 13%.”

Dr. Quant pointed out that health workers were particularly impacted when the pandemic began. “They found themselves without a lot of protective measures”, and “without adequate protective equipment.” The latter, he declared critically, “continues to be a problem.”

Nicaragua’s official toll, according to the government, is of 5,938 infections and 163 deaths. However, the independent monitoring organization “Covid-19 Citizens’ Observatory” gives very different figures. “Citizens’ Observatory” has counted 11,780 suspected cases of Coronavirus in Nicaragua and 2,871 deaths. The organization can only tally suspected cases, because the Ministry of Health controls all testing and refuses to release results.

In the week from December 10 to 16, the independent reporting group counted 229 new suspected cases of Coronavirus. They warned that this represents an 89% increase in weekly infections.

If they want to control the pandemic, Dr. Arguello recommended, the government should begin to do “the necessary testing.” He was clear that “the vaccine is a very important tool for control.” However, he noted, in reality other tools are still needed to prevent the spread of the virus. He reiterated the need to maintain social distancing, avoid crowd activities, maintain vigilant handwashing and not touch mouth, eyes, or nose.

Read more news from Nicaragua here.