PAHO: “In Nicaragua Covid-19 Spread Is Already at Community Level”

An ambulance from the Ministry of Health waits outside the emergency room of the “Aleman Nicaraguense” Hospital where patients with Covid-19 are being treated. (Taken from “Esta Semana”)

PAHO Director warns of “strong increase” in Covid-19 cases in Nicaragua in the coming days, despite the lack of data.

By Ivette Munguia (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The report of the Ministry of Health (MINSA), dated May 19, where 254 cases of Covid-19 cases were reported in one week, led the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to conclude that in Nicaragua the transmission of the coronavirus is “already at community level,” despite the fact that the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo has not recognized it. So, it urges civil society to implement all the necessary protective measures.

According to PAHO’s Director of Health Emergencies, Dr. Ciro Ugarte, until almost a week ago the information from MINSA was “insufficient” to make an adequate analysis of the situation of the pandemic, but the exponential increase in the cases led PAHO to conclude that there is community transmission.

This conclusion was communicated last weekend to MINSA through the PAHO focal point established in Managua in accordance with the International Health Regulations, and subsequently published on the agency’s website.

Ugarte also called on Nicaragua to make the figures on Covid-19 transparent, to report reliably on the pandemic “so that the population takes the appropriate protective measures,” reduce community transmission, protect health personnel and implement measures that can maintain essential community health services.

An increase in cases is foreseen

PAHO’s Director, Carisse Etienne, based in Washington D.C., warned of an increase in cases of Covid-19 in the Americas region, mainly in the center and south of the continent. This acceleration of the epidemiological curve will be observed in the coming days in El Salvador and Guatemala. Likewise, in Nicaragua they foresee “a strong increase” despite the “limitations we have in accessing data,” she said.

The Government of Nicaragua maintained that up to May 19, there were 279 cases of Covid-19, of which 63 were active, 199 patients having recovered and 17 dead. However, the independent Covid-19 Citizens Observatory recorded, in its latest report, that there are 2,323 suspected cases in the country and some 404 deaths related to the coronavirus.

Every Tuesday, PAHO holds an online information session in which it reports on the progress of Covid-19 in the Americas region. On May 26, the organization reiterated that “Latin America is now an epicenter of the pandemic,” and specified that the projections made “have their limitations,” since situations can change based on the specific responses of any country.

“This is not the time to relax restrictions or reduce preventive strategies. This is the time to remain vigilant and aggressively implement proven public health measures…now is the time to act,” said Etienne.

Analysis can wait

Regarding the request made to PAHO by Nicaraguan civil society sectors for a country mission to be sent, Dr. Ugarte said that PAHO has an international group of experts ready to “do an evaluation of health services, the epidemiological situation and all the measures” that Nicaragua has taken to confront Covid-19. This offer to evaluate the health system “has not yet been accepted by the Government of Nicaragua.”

However, on May 25 the Ortega regime published a “white paper” on the Covid-19 in which it indicates that it has done an “excellent” health and economic management against the pandemic, and that the hundreds of infected people and dozens of deaths toll is fake news from “coup-monger” groups, both national and foreign, but does not mention a word about the tests carried out and the state of country’s hospitals.

Nevertheless, PAHO considered that “in this circumstance, analysis may be secondary and could take days” and called on all public and private entities in Nicaragua to immediately implement all the recommendations provided by PAHO. “The protection of life and health cannot wait,” he said.

For several weeks, PAHO has explained that given the scarce official information, the organization is “taking into account unofficial reports on the increase in cases, deaths and “atypical pneumonia” and maintains “its commitment to support the Government of Nicaragua to reduce the impact” of Covid-19 on the population.”

PAHO also expressed its concern about the number of tests carried out, contact tracing, the reporting of cases. “We are essentially concerned about the absence of social distancing and because the call for crowded events continues to be made,” Dr. Ugarte said at a conference last week.