PAHO: Nicaragua Is the Only C.A. Country with No Covid-19 Test Reports

The National Diagnostic and Reference Center, located in the Ministry of Health Complex in Managua.  Photo: Carlos Herrera.

“All Central American countries are reporting their data on a daily basis, with the exception of Nicaragua, alerts PAHO’s advocacy manager for Covid-19

By Ana Lucia Cruz (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Three months after the confirmation of the first positive case of Covid-19 in Nicaragua, the Government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo continues without informing the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) of the number of tests it has carried out and processed at the centralized National Diagnostic and Reference Center laboratory, in Managua  complained PAHO on Wednesday.

The PAHO Director of Health Emergencies, Ciro Ugarte, affirmed —when consulted by Confidencial—, that although they provided support in the training of personnel of the Ministry of Health’s main laboratory in Nicaragua, “no information has been received on the number of tests carried out and processed by the national laboratory, I am referring to the confirmation of cases of Covid-19 cases.”

Furthermore, he pointed out that the Nicaraguan authorities have also not provided a geographical report on the increase in cases in areas near the border with Costa Rican, given the alert from the neighboring country that has reported a “significant increase in cases,” in previous weeks.

“What would be expected is an increase in cases on the Nicaragua side, so we are waiting for that information to be shared by Nicaragua considering the geographical area where they report cases, but so far we have not received that detail,” Ugarte regretted.

To date, Nicaraguan Health authorities have reported a total of 2,170 positive cases of Covid-19 and 74 deaths. However, they do not provide details of the departments or municipalities most affected by the pandemic, nor the number of tests that have been applied. Nor does it refer to the 26,000 rapid tests donated by the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI).

At international level, Nicaragua’s image of secrecy has also been exposed. Sylvain Aldighhieri, PAHO’s Covid-19 Advocacy Manager, when referring to the Central American laboratories agreed: “All Central American countries report their data on a daily basis, with the exception of Nicaragua.”

Aldighieri emphasized that all Central American countries have the capacity to carry out molecular tests or PCR, although he explained that the contagion in this area is currently on an increasing trend, with the exception of Belize, which has a phase classified as sporadic cases, according to the Organization.

However, PAHO also criticized the number of tests being carried out in some countries such as Brazil, as they assure that a test ratio for Covid-19 tests of less than 10,000 per million inhabitants is being applied.

“It is necessary to increase the number of tests in Brazil because it is what gives us the closest magnitude of the epidemic,” said Marcos Espinal, director of PAHO’s Department of Communicable Diseases.

Positive Covid-19 cases triple in a month

PAHO representatives were also concerned that, in one month, the number of infections in Latin America have tripled, since up until May 23 they summed up almost 690,000 infections and currently this number exceeds two million according to the records of the organization.

“Last month, I announced here that our region had become the new epicenter of the pandemic. I am sorry to say that since then, the cases of Covid-19 in Latin America have tripled,” said PAHO Director, Carissa Etienne, who started the online conference that takes place every week.

The PAHO Director highlighted that in Central America and the Caribbean border regions the virus also continues to circulate widely. The reflection has also been seen, according to Etienne, in the number of deaths that are already close to more than 226,540 dead.

However, the most affected country on the continent is still the United States, according to PAHO in the United States, there are currently 2,229,272 cases and 120,171 deaths, followed by Brazil, which already exceeds one million infections and accumulates 51,271 deaths from Covid-19.

Given this accelerated increase in the region, the PAHO representative urges governments to cooperate “beyond political divisions and geographical borders” and to invest at least 6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in health.