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Deaths from Covid-19 in Nicaragua Doubled in a Week, says MINSA Report

Epidemiologist warns about figures increase of 1,016% in positive cases in a week: no country in the world has had “such an increase” in the curve

Experts warn that there will be a second covid-19 outbreak in Nicaragua

Yader Luna

21 de mayo 2020


Nicaragua officially doubled the total number of deaths from Covid-19 in a single week, adding nine deaths between May 12 and 19, to the 8 that it had admitted from March 26 to May 11th, for a total of 17 deaths due to the pandemic, according to the weekly report of the Ministry of Health (MINSA) on Tuesday.

However, despite revealing more data on the progress of the coronavirus, compared to previous reports, the information continues to be confused and incomplete.

Until last week, MINSA accumulated 25 confirmed cases with Covid-19. “During the current week, which runs from May 12 to 19, we have attended and given responsible and careful monitoring to 254 Nicaraguans clinically confirmed or probable,” informed the Minister of Health, Martha Reyes, upon reading the report.

Although the Ministry did not explicitly detail it, the total number of positive cases of Covid-19 in Nicaragua would now be 279, adding the previous 25 plus the 254 new ones, that is, from one week to the next, the increase is more than eleven times.

“This is an increase of 1,016%. Nowhere has there been such an increase at the beginning of the climb of the curve (it doubles, at most triples) …so there is evidence of underreporting,” epidemiologist Rafael Amador told Confidencial.

Amador was one of the first to warn that Nicaragua entered the last phase of transmission of the pandemic two weeks ago: community spread, which precedes the exponential increase in cases.

This is the first time that the Minsa mentions in its report cases with Covid-19 “clinically confirmed or probable.” Epidemiologist, Leonel Arguello, stressed that “it is striking that it also accepting those with clinical diagnosis,” because “until now, Minsa was providing only cases confirmed by the PCR laboratory tests (presence or absence of viruses),” although without specifying the number of tests carried out.

Arguello noted that the other countries of the Central American region are only reporting laboratory confirmed cases. The exception of Nicaragua, “is a recognition of the geometrical and accelerated growth of the Covid-19 epidemic,” he said.

“If Covid-19 deaths were recorded by clinical (diagnosis), the comparison could be made in a more correct manner. Regardless of this, the important thing is that it is showing more than it was previously, because the evidence in hospitals, cemeteries and neighborhoods have made it clear that there are more cases and more deaths,” Arguello said.


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Observatory: deaths grow 50% in three days

For the first time, The Health Minister Martha Reyes was in charge of reading the official report, which until now had been read by the Minsa secretary general, Carlos Saenz. Reyes said that, besides the nine deaths attributable to Covid-19, there were “other deaths of people who had been under monitoring,” but that, as the previous week, they are listed as due to pre-existing diseases such as lung thrombosis, diabetes mellitus, heat attack, hypertensive crisis and bacterial pneumonia.

However, going from 8 to 17 confirmed deaths from Covid-19 represents an increase of more than 110%, he noted.

Furthermore, also on Tuesday, the independent monitoring of the Covid-19 Citizens Observatory, based on complaints from the population, recorded that the number of deaths suspected of Covid -19 grew by 50% in a span of three days, rising to 351, according to the most recent report.

According to the Observatory, between May 13 and 16, at least 118 people suffered deaths related to the Covid-19 pandemic in Nicaragua, increasing the total number of deaths from 233 to 351.

A group of volunteers, which includes independent medical personnel, also reported 1,594 cases of Covid-19 since the first confirmed positive case in the country, last March 18.

Confusing and incomplete figures

Although the official Minsa report is the most extensive presented since the start of the pandemic, official figures continue to be confusing and incomplete.

Reyes said that “since the beginning of the pandemic and until today, we have attended and provided responsible and careful monitoring to 470 people,” without the Minsa clarifying to date whether the term refers to the total number of registered cases, or only to the suspected cases, since until the end of April the confirmed cases were presented as “delicate, but stable” or “delicate and attended.”

Since April 27, Minsa also did not specify the links of the contagion of the affected people. Although it affirmed again that “cases of outbreaks have been presented through clearly established contacts,” without explicitly admitting that there is local community spread, as doctors from hospitals and independent epidemiologists have already warned.

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Yader Luna

Yader Luna

Periodista nicaragüense, con dos décadas de trayectoria en medios escritos y digitales. Fue editor de las publicaciones Metro, La Brújula y Revista Niú. Ganador del Grand Prize Lorenzo Natali en Derechos Humanos.