A study prepared by the Observatory for Transparency and Anticorruption determined that the Government of Nicaragua would have hidden 6,000 to 9,000 deaths from covid-19 between March 2020 and November 2021, its authors reported on Friday.
“The State hid between 6,000 and 9,000 deaths caused by covid-19, which were registered as other pathologies,” concluded the study, entitled “Covid-19 and opacity: The formula for death in Nicaragua”, which was presented in a press teleconference.
The researchers of that Observatory, who requested anonymity citing security reasons, reached this conclusion after contrasting the data released by the Government of President Daniel Ortega, with mortality studies of the Multidisciplinary Scientific Committee, the Citizen Observatory Covid-19, the Nicaraguan Foundation for Economic and Social Development (Funides), the digital media Confidencial, and official statistics of neighbouring countries.
Nicaragua’s medical union has been at the center of the pandemic debate over criticism of the government and at least 16 doctors have been fired from public hospitals without explanation, after demanding biosecurity equipment and recommending national prevention measures.
The Parliament, controlled by the ruling party, canceled the legal status of 24 NGOs, most of them medical, at the request of the Executive, after Vice President Rosario Murillo accused them of being “false doctors and with false prognoses.”
They indicate under-registration
According to the researchers, in the first 20 months of the pandemic, the Ministry of Health (Minsa) of Nicaragua reported 211 deaths from covid-19 and 5,947 infections, while the Citizen Observatory identified 5,945 deaths and 31,224 suspected cases.
“This (data from the Citizen Observatory) is 1.7 times more suspected cases and 28 times more deaths than those reported by the Minsa, whose figure is very low, there is probably an under-registration,” said the researcher in charge of the exhibition, who recalled that it is unlikely that in Nicaragua exactly one citizen has died every week since October 2020.
According to the study, “while in the rest of the Central American countries between 6 and 11 people die every week per 10,000 inhabitants, in Nicaragua no one died.”
He further noted that the “underreporting” possibly occurred because “many infections were asymptomatic, took them as a common flu, or were not reported as covid-19.”
To that he added the little access that exists in Nicaragua to perform PCR tests, whose management is exclusive to the Ministry of Health, and are only available at $ 150 for those traveling outside the country, medical personnel and serious patients.
As a result, Nicaragua reflects the lowest number of infections in Central America, according to official figures.
Managing the pandemic
The researcher insisted that this reflected the “opacity” of the data on covid-19, since while in neighboring countries between 56 and 111 PCR tests are carried out per 1,000 inhabitants, at the local level the average is “zero”.
The study also concluded that there is “responsibility of the authorities after the denial of the pandemic, the lack of taking measures, and then a cover-up of mismanagement to sell to the population that the State cared about them and did everything possible to save them.”
He pointed out that “official statistics are scarce, confusing and questioned by the medical community and the Pan American Health Organization,” and that “public data do not allow us to know the most affected groups or the impact on health personnel.”
“The COVID-19 crisis showed the structural weaknesses of the Nicaraguan health system, but also of the ruling political regime characterized by its authority, secrecy and serious human rights violations that have caused a serious humanitarian crisis, one of the most remarkable in the region,” he said.