The Nicaraguan government has been widely criticized for its lack of transparency concerning the impact of the COVID epidemic in the country. Unlike other countries, it has not revealed the amount of testing it has done, nor made tests widely available, nor given clear figures of test results. Numerous family members of those who have died report that the result of their relatives´ tests were frequently classified as “indeterminate”. The Social Security Administration (INSS) has said they will not state that sick leave is for COVID-19, and medical staff report that they have been indicated to give diagnoses of “atypical pneumonia” instead of COVID-19.
In light of this situation, a Citizen Observatory of COVID-19 was established. It is a “collaborative effort of an interdisciplinary team with information provided by organizations, networks, and the general citizenry who want to contribute to filling the vacuum of information on the COVID-19 situation in Nicaragua…We report on suspected cases of COVID-19 and irregularities that violate human rights, especially the right to health care. The Citizen Observatory receives numerous reports, nevertheless we only publish information that has been verified by our sources. We reflect the perception of the citizenry about the development of the epidemic in their territories, contributing in this way to filling the existing information gap. We only consider information verified if we confirm the authenticity of the report with the same or other sources. The network of informants are recognized community leaders in their territory, which allows them to verify the information.
… A person reported as a suspected COVID-19 case has to fulfill one or more of these requirements:
- Presents symptoms associated or presumptive of COVID-19; or
- In addition to symptoms, the person has a history of travel; or
- In addition to symptoms, the person has been in contact with a case confirmed by MINSA
The Observatory does not do laboratory tests nor clinic diagnoses to determine whether a case is suspect.
The translation of their report for the week of June 18-26, 2020 follows. Note that the report also includes the official government count for the same week.
Citizen Observatory COVID-19 Nicaragua
Press Release No. 13
Results from June 18-24, 2020
Nicaragua, June 26, 2020
In this stage where the number of people with the disease continues to rise, it is the moment for increasing individual, family and community protection. We exhort the population to continue taking all the preventive measures like physical distancing, hand washing and the use of masks.
Yes you can, stay at home and let´s save lives!
On June 24th a cumulative total is reported of 6,775 suspicious cases, verified by the Citizen Observatory in all the provinces and autonomous regions, in 134 municipalities (87% of the municipalities of the country). 694 new cases were recorded this week, which represents an 11% increase in the period.
Managua (2,918), Matagalpa (687), Masaya (552), León (399), Estelí (325), Chinandega (272), Jinotega (208), Madriz (184), Granada (180), Carazo (169) and RACCS (153) are the provinces or regions that report the largest number of suspected cases.
Up until June 23 MINSA reported 2,170 confirmed cases, 607 active cases, 1,489 recovered and 74 deaths (death rate of 3.4%). This mortality rate reaffirms the urgent need that the government take measures to prevent infection, and that it have more detailed information that would allow directing decision making to deal with the situation.
Of the 70 irregularities [i.e. violations of human right to health care] reported this week, 22 refer to the exposure of people in activities or crowds, 17 to inadequate responses of MINSA and 10 to threats and reprisals.
Up until June 24th 1,878 deaths have been reported and verified, of which 129 (7%) are categorized as deaths due to pneumonia, and 1,749 (93%) as suspected deaths of COVID-19. These deaths have taken place in all of the 17 provinces and autonomous regions of the country. Managua (772), Masaya (224), León (140), and Matagalpa (118) report the largest number of deaths. In this week we have verified information of 189 new deaths, which represents an 11% increase in the number of deaths from the previous week.
These deaths are reported from 17 provinces and autonomous regions, 110 municipalities (72% of the total number of municipalities in the country). The province of Managua records 39% of all the deaths, Masaya 12%, León 7%, Chinandega and Matagalpa 6% respectively; Granada, Estelí and RACCN 4% respectively.
Of those 1,878 deaths, 212 (11%) took place in their homes and 18 (1%) during their transfer to a health unit.
Up to June 24th the Observatory received reports of 652 health workers with symptoms associated with or presumptive of COVID-19. This week ALL the provinces or autonomous regions reported cases (principally Managua, León and Matagalpa) and 67 municipalities.
On June 24th 78 suspected deaths of COVID were reported of health care personnel. 34 doctors, 21 nurses, 11 administrative staff, 3 medical visitors, 2 laboratory staff, and 7 categorized as “other” (technical or ETV staff, for example).
From 7 provinces or autonomous regions reports were received of inadequate response in different health units, the reports indicate:
- Lack of supply of potable water
- Scarcity of ventilators
- Rejection of donations in health units where a need for these inputs exist
- Lack of communication on the health status of the patients with their families
- Lack of electric generators needed for the functioning of essential medical apparatus for patients in a critical status during the ongoing cuts of electric energy.
- Little or no medical attention to hospitalized patients.
- Diagnosis of pneumonia for patients who present symptoms of COVID-19
- Use of neonatal ventilators for COVID-19 patients, which puts at risk babies who present respiratory difficulties.
- Lack of follow up on the part of MINSA of contacts of people who present COVID-19 symptoms. Nor have the homes of the relatives of these patients been sanitized.
- Sending home the majority of suspected patients of COVID-19 with treatment. A report was received of a patient who died hours after having been released from the hospital
Yes, you can, stay at home and let´s save lives!
Attached you can find the report for June 18-24, 2020 generated by the Observatory:
Suspected cases by the Observatory*: 6775
Deaths by pneumonia and suspected COVID-19 deaths reported by Observatory: 1878
Cases confirmed by MINSA: 2170
Deaths reported by MINSA: 74
*People reported as suspected cases by the Observatory, deaths by pneumonia and suspected COVID-19 deaths have been verified by the local source of information.