Nicaragua Silent on Exporting Covid-19 Cases to Cuba

By Circles Robinson

The kick off for the summer party week in Nicaragua, where the government says social distancing is unnecessary for the general population.  Photo: el19digital.com

HAVANA TIMES – If you don’t do tests and/or you don’t divulge the results, it’s as if there’s no threat of the Covid-19. That is, as long as the cover-up lasts. This is the policy put in place by the Ortega-Murillo government in Nicaragua.

For the last week, the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health claims an undisclosed number of tests were all negative and that there are only three confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country, all “imported” from travelers.

The government thanks God for sparing Nicaragua from the global pandemic and continues to ignore recommendations for prevention from the World Health Organization and its regional affiliate, the Pan American Health Organization.

Why would Cuba lie to its ally?

Cuban Health Minister Jose Angel Portal Miranda reported the third Coronavirus positive Cuban patient having come from Nicaragua. Photo: cubadebate.cu

Meanwhile, Cuban health authorities informed Wednesday that a 58-year-old Havana resident who returned from Nicaragua tested positive for the Coronavirus. She is the third patient that Cuba claims has returned home carrying an infection contracted in Nicaragua.

The Ortega-Murillo government has simply not responded to this claim from Havana, remaining silent about all three cases. Likewise, no word was mentioned if Nicaragua is following up on the contacts in Managua of the three Cubans who returned home with the Coronavirus. 

Cuba, which provides medical assistance to the Ortega government, has seen a sharp spike of its Covid-19 cases during the last week.  It now registers 457 positive cases with another 1,732 hospitalized under observation and 9,414 under watch vigilance in their homes.

From the official Cuban website cubadebate.cu. on April 8, 2020.

Cuba has closed its borders and partially shut down the country.  The government insists on social distancing, put some communities in quarantine, closed schools, and is conducting a growing number of tests. 

The reckless Nicaraguan government protocol

Nicaraguans, in total opposite, are still being encouraged by Murillo, the undeclared acting president, to attend family and public gatherings, sporting events, food fairs, beaches, etc. during the Easter Week holidays. In the past two weeks she convened numerous pro-government rallies with supporters in close quarters, although the leaders didn’t attend.

Ortega and Murillo haven’t been seen outside their El Carmen residence/presidential bunker in over a month, as they are reportedly hunkered down with their entire extended family.

After its own silence, the Pan American Health Organization director, Carissa Etienne said on Tuesday, “PAHO has been concerned about the response to Covid-19 in Nicaragua.”  

The government has attempted to show it is doing something by promoting highly publicized face-to-face home visits using health brigades, a technique partially successful in the fight against dengue and malaria, but totally inappropriate for the nature of Covid-19.

Civil society has gone ahead with its own decisions: numerous companies have temporarily shut down, including some of the largest free trade zone factories involving tens of thousands of workers, while others have people working from home.

Private schools are giving classes on-line, the same for church services, etc. The informal sector, 70% of the economy, is partially paralyzed but many continue to take the risk and try and earn their daily sustenance on the streets.

The information vacuum created by the government’s silence has been filled by rumors on social media. If the government doesn’t respond, the most likely scenario is that the silence will be broken when the number of the sick grows so great that it becomes an open secret in the clinics and barrios.



6 thoughts on “Nicaragua Silent on Exporting Covid-19 Cases to Cuba

  • Cuba has closed its borders to foreign travelers. All Cuban residents coming into the country must self isolate for the prescribed days. And, perhaps further monitoring is done to fully ensure any pandemic stricken person is fully healthy before allowed into the community. This is a good thing.

    For Cuba to be blaming another country for the importation of the COVID-19 seems to be politically motivated. If we recall exactly, wasn’t the first case in Cuba of this pandemic virus imported from an Italian tourist from Italy? Santa Clara was the city where the Italian was residing and then he was transported to Havana. Unfortunately, the virus spread unabated for awhile and infected many more Cubans. We do not see the Cuban medical authorities taking issue with Italy.

    According to the article three Cubans returned from Nicaragua and tested positive. We assume they were immediately quarantined. The article seems to suggest to now link these three cases for being responsible for the exponential increase in COVID-19 cases in Cuba. This is illogical. There had to be community spread from the initial case and multiplied and where community and government response was extremely lax.

    If another country is allowing the pandemic to spread either by omission or commission, this is a serious health issue that the WHO (World Health Organization) must grapple with. For one country to cast a negative aspersion towards another country regarding COVID-19, as Donald Trump does loosely and indirectly with China, is totally inappropriate.

    This is no time to be scoring political points; every country needs to ensure its residents are safe and if it has the resources to help another country do the same. This is a global pandemic not regional.

    Reply
    • Stephen, I don’t think you understood the post. Yes, Cuba is now reporting on every case, mentioning where there may have come from if they were traveling, and what neighborhood, town or city they are from on the island. That seems to be the correct way to handle it. The problem is Nicaragua in this case. The government is trying to hide the danger of the disease from the population and is encouraging its propagation. Cuba, with a much more reliable health system than Nicaragua, has mentioned the three cases coming from Nicaragua. The government in Managua completely denies through omission that the cases truly exist. Remember, as the article states, the government’s of the two countries are allies and Cuban medical personal are assisting in Nicaragua. The point is there are no political points involved. Covid-19 is a life or death issue. After a slow start, Cuba is taking it very seriously. Nicaragua is taking a totally opposite approach. Why?, that’s anyone’s guess.

      Reply
      • Circles,

        After further research in reading: “Nicaragua Needs Massive Testing for COVID-19”, I fully understand your response.

        However, if Havana and Managua, as you have stated are allies, why castigate the country publicly? Has Havana gone directly to the World Health Organization (WHO) and publicly registered a legitimate complaint regarding Nicaragua’s blatant omission? I hope so.

        If as you state: “The government is trying to hide the danger of the disease from the population and is encouraging its propagation.” This is a very serious allegation. Nicaragua’s omission could be considered a crime against humanity and Havana, if it has the known facts, needs to report this to the WHO, and quickly.

        As you state, every country is in this together and we must all work together to try and eradicate this epic pandemic and if there is a country not complying, the proper authorities must be contacted immediately.

        Reply
        • Stephen, listen to the video with the PAHO director on this post. https://havanatimes.org/news/paho-concerned-about-the-nicaraguan-governments-response-to-covid-19/ It’s in English with Spanish subtitles. She is someone who has been considered a friend of Ortega. On the other issue, Havana isn’t accusing anybody, just stating where there cases arise from. It’s Nicaragua that denies they ever existed since Murillo is trying to make it seem that the country is totally free of any local infestation and propagation. It’s party and reunion time in Nicaragua according to the acting president.

          Reply
          • Thank you for that information. I did listen to the PAHO Director’s remarks and carefully read the article. Nicaragua’s, that is, specifically Ortega-Murillo, response to this pandemic is as I stated in my response to you a crime against humanity when a country’s leader(s) knowingly put their population at risk of mass potential annihilation. Cuba is extremely worried and rightly so.

            I do not understand why Cuba knowing that its medical personnel are in dire danger continue to remain in the country. I know Cuba sends its medical specialist to any country that requests help especially neighboring Latin American countries and does not want to abandon people on humanitarian grounds. Cuba is to be commended for its response to the Italian pandemic crisis. It knew the risks but the medical personnel had the unmitigated support of the Italian government and all its resources.

            If the Nicaraguan government, again it leaders Ortega-Murillo, refuse to abide by international health sanctions, I believe Cuba has no choice but to save its medical personnel from acquiring COVID-19 infection and invariably transferring the virus unintentionally to its country citizens.

            In times of crisis governments of all stripes need to make excruciating hard decisions for self preservation; in this case, in an unprecedented global pandemic entire populations’ health and welfare are at stake: Cubans and Nicaraguans.

  • It appears from your reporting Circles, that the people of Nicaragua are endeavoring to take steps themselves to inhibit the spread of the disease. But the failure of the Government to take action because of the religious rants emanating from the crazed Rosario Murillo, comfortably (despite being over-burdened with jewelry and silk clothing) hunkered down with the apparently dumbstruck President, is going to make reducing the spread of the epidemic impossible.

    Reply

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