In the past week, a total of 329 people died with symptoms of Covid-19 in Nicaragua, a country of 6.7 million people. This is the second highest death toll in the entire pandemic recorded by the independent monitoring of the Citizen Observatory. The highest report of deaths was 351 and was registered on May 26, 2020.
The deaths identified in the latest report are 72.2% higher than a week ago and three times higher than a month ago. Most of the deaths occurred in the departments of Managua, Madriz, Matagalpa, Leon, Esteli and Chontales. These deaths include the loss of nine people from the medical profession.
In addition, 1,865 suspected cases of Covid-19 were reported between September 2nd and September 8th, the highest record of weekly infections registered by the Citizens’ Observatory for Covid-19, in almost a year and a half of the pandemic crisis.
“Given the pandemic peak that Nicaragua is experiencing and the potential collapse of the health system, the Observatory calls on all citizens to keep a voluntary quarantine during the month of September to save as many lives as possible,” its members warned.
Cases at the cemetery
In the first days of September, a cemetery received up to more than 10 deaths from Covid-19. However, these deaths were classified by other causes, among them: obstructive, cardiogenic, or septic shock; pulmonary thromboembolism and acute myocardial infarction.
Two of these causes of death are admitted as “deaths in people who have been under follow-up” in the weekly reports of the Ministry of Health (MINSA); but the authorities do not include them in the official tally of deaths from Covid-19 and do not reveal the number of patients who die.
The exclusion of these deaths is a practice that the health authorities have implemented since the arrival of the pandemic. As demonstrated by various national and international excess mortality analysis, in the months of March to August 2020, Nicaragua had an excess of more than 7,500 deaths that would be attributable to Covid-19, but which were classified as diabetes, heart attacks, pneumonia and hypertension.
This surplus placed the country in the top ten nations in the world that have registered excess mortality (number of deaths above the historical average), according to an analysis of data published by the prestigious British newspaper Financial Times (FT). According to the death certificates in the possession of Confidencial, the practice of hiding deaths from other causes persists.
Cemetery registers more than 60 deaths since May
Confidencial had access to a database with records of 200 people who were buried between May 1 and early September. According to the data, 50 of those deaths were due to Covid-19. A figure that is almost four times higher than the 19 deaths—one per week—that the MINSA has admitted in the same period.
According to the registry, during the month of May in that cemetery, there were more than 40 deaths, but only two required the use of emergency for Covid-19. However, in June the death toll from this cause was nine times higher.
Meanwhile, in July there was a decrease in the number of deaths and of the more than 30 burials they had during that month, almost a third were due to Covid-19. In August, the death toll rose, reporting twice as many deaths from the pandemic.
However, in September the number of deaths from Covid-19 increased up to 600%, because compared to the first seven days of August, when two deaths were reported, there were 14, which include up to three a day.
According to the data analysis, 36.5% of the burials that required a Covid-19 protocol were of people who died, according to the death certificate, from obstructive, cardiogenic, or septic shock. The remaining 23.81% were classified as deaths due to pulmonary thromboembolism and 7.94 as acute myocardial infarction.
There were also deaths from respiratory failure, arrhythmias, coronary syndrome, cardiorespiratory arrest, stroke, diabetes mellitus, cerebrovascular disease, pulmonary hypertension, respiratory distress syndrome and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Some of these also appear as another cause: atypical pneumonia or organized pneumonia.
Thirty percent of the 63 deaths since May were people between 70 and 79 years old, 22% were between 60 and 69 and 17% were between 50 and 59 years old. Likewise, 7.94% of people who were between 20 and 39 years old were registered. And 12.70% who were older than 80 years.
Among those who died during the first days of September, in this cemetery there were at least four people who were between 30 and 50 years old.
Comorbidity used to decrease deaths
According to medical opinion, all these deaths should have been included among the official figures of the Covid-19 because the trigger for them was Covid-19 and not the underlying diseases that they could have or the final causes for which the person died.
“What the Covid is doing is accelerating the death of people who are infected, who had some not well-treated underlying chronic illness, and who arrived late to the hospital to be attended,” explained the specialists to the regime’s report using “comorbidity” to lower lethality of Covid-19, published by Confidencial.
The relative of a patient who died in August 2021, told Confidencial that although he was treated as a ‘Covid patient’ and was in the Intensive Care Unit, depending on a ventilator in a hospital in Masaya, when he finally died the authorities said that he no longer had the virus and that the cause was due to his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
However, the family could not enter to recognize the body, because they just showed him through a photograph and the authorities ordered to bury him immediately. “We could not dress him, in the box we buried him in you could hear the noise of a bag,” says one of the relatives.
According to the official version, between March 26 —when the first death from Covid-19 was reported—, and September 7, 2021, 201 people died from coronavirus in Nicaragua. However, although the number of infected and hospitalized exceeds the limit of the highest peak reported in 2020, they maintain that only one person has died every seven days for 48 weeks.
“If we want to compare with last year, the number of cases is definitely higher, the severity with which patients arrive at health units is higher, the mortality is greater,” said a doctor in an interview on the Esta Semana program.