Nicaraguan Soccer Players Test Positive for COVID-19

Photo: Confidencial

Players from two different soccer teams have tested positive for COVID-19 in Costa Rica. Nonetheless, national sporting events in Nicaragua remain open to the public without enforcing the recommended preventive measures.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – Several Nicaraguan soccer players and members of their teams’ coaching staff have tested positive for COVID-19. The positive tests occurred over the last few weeks in both the Managua and Esteli soccer clubs.  The latest information appeared on the website of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Soccer Confederation (Concacaf).

Both teams had travelled to El Salvador and Costa Rica at different times for the Scotiabank 2020 Concacaf League competition.  They recently participated in the preliminary round and the eighth round of sixteen in Costa Rica. The COVID-19 tests are part of the Confederation’s mandatory procedures. When the tests were run, they confirmed the presence of COVID-19 infections among the player and team staff.

The latest confirmation of the virus occurred on Wednesday, November 4th, before the game scheduled for the following day. That match – between Costa Rica’s Herediano team and the Nicaraguan team from Esteli – was suspended.

“In this eighth round of the Scotiabank League Competition, several members of the delegations from both clubs tested positive for COVID-19. There are inconsistencies in some results. As a precaution, Concacaf has decided to postpone this match,” the website explained.

Esteli team knew of possible infections

Before travelling to Costa Rica, the Esteli team had issued a public statement. In it, they confirmed that two players and two members of the coaching staff wouldn’t be participating in the competition. When the team members were tested for COVID-19 in Nicaragua, the results came back “undetermined”. That’s a technical term the Nicaraguan health authorities have employed to indicate positive COVID-19 tests.

“Given this situation, the [team’s] Board of Directors activated the club’s internal protocols. They will keep them [the four team members] under observation until a second test,” they stated.

Following confirmation of the cases in Costa Rica, the Esteli soccer club reported the match’s suspension on their social media sites. The suspension, they stated, came “in the context of the pandemic across the world”.

On October 20, one player and one member of the Managua Soccer Club team also tested positive for COVID-19. However, on that occasion, the two people who had tested positive were quarantined and the games continued.

Covid-19 still circulating in Nicaragua

Confirmation of the soccer players’ infections could be “expected” according to infectious disease specialist Carlos Quant.  The virus continues to circulate among the population and we would know this if the authorities would do widespread testing.  That’s the only way to know, Quant stated, since in nine out of ten cases of the new Coronavirus are mild.

“The COVID epidemic isn’t over. The population isn’t even close to reaching 70% immunity, the minimal threshold for collective, or herd immunity. [So], what was identified in Costa Rica is expected. If we’re not doing sample testing it’s difficult to identify cases,” the doctor confirmed. Dr. Quant is a member of Nicaragua’s Multidisciplinary Scientific Committee.

Dr. Quant explained that many of the respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms circulating in the population are being attributed to other diseases. In reality, though, they’re likely to be mild cases of COVID-19, especially among people who frequent crowed places. The lack of massive testing covers this up.

More than seven months have passed since the first positive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Nicaragua. During this time, the country has held soccer, baseball and basketball games with open seating.  They aren’t complying strictly with the preventive measures promised by the authorities.

In the case of soccer, social pressure during the first months of the pandemic led them to make some concessions. During those months, they played behind closed doors. That decision was revoked in the last few months, and they now play before the public.

In the case of baseball, the “German Pomares Ordonez” League played from January 31st through August 14th. Although they promised to limit the number of spectators, the mandates for social distancing and face masks weren’t actually enforced. The newspaper La Prensa reported that over 5,000 fans attended the final game.

Similarly, the country is now holding the 2020 Basketball League championships. The games are free and open to the public. They aren’t complying with the recommended preventive measures. There are fans who don’t wear face masks or respect social distancing.

Get more news from Nicaragua here.