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Nicaragua Has Its First Confirmed Case of Coronavirus

The Nicaraguan, 40, returned from Panama, says Murillo; he is “isolated” and “stable”, “and we hope to God that he doesn’t need a respirator”

The first case of coronavirus in Nicaragua was announced on Wednesday night March 18th. The confirmation was made via a phone call from Rosario Murillo the wife/VP of Daniel Ortega, to the official media.

The patient is a 40-year-old Nicaraguan who traveled to Panama City on March 13-14 and returned to Nicaragua on Sunday, March 15, by air.

Nicaragua was until this Wednesday one of the two countries in Central America, along with El Salvador, where no case of the rapidly advancing pandemic in Central America had been confirmed.  Minutes later, El Salvador also confirmed the first positive case in a person who entered the country through a blind spot.

In the case of Nicaragua, if this first infected Nicaraguan returned to the country on Sunday, it means that he arrived in the country less than 24 hours after the Government held their “Love in the times of the Covid-19” rally in the streets of Managua. Specialists had criticized Murillo’s ignoring the international measures established to prevent the spread of the virus.

Symptoms of the first coronavirus case in Nicaragua

The patient presented his first symptoms on Tuesday, March 17, said Murillo. They were fever, sore throat and dry cough and “he went to a hospital where we have all the conditions created to receive people with suspicious symptoms.” She did not reveal the name of the facility.

The Nicaraguan is “isolated with good, stable breathing” on his own. “And we hope to God that he doesn’t need a respirator,” said Murillo. In Nicaragua, there is no public information on how many respirators are available in hospitals.

Severe patients with covid-19 can present respiratory complications and pneumonia, which prevent them from breathing without assistance. As of March 18, the balance of the pandemic in the world is over 200,000 affected and more than 8,000 deceased, in over 160 countries.

“We send our strong embrace, faith and prayers to the Lord so that they can recover,” said Murillo.

She noted that “all protocols” of health care and protection are being followed. However, the Government maintains school activities for next week to commemorate the literacy campaign days of the 1980s.

Murillo said that they are also identifying the contacts that the infected Nicaraguan may have had traveling with him. “Any person who has had contact with him, everyone in his family, who has symptoms, will immediately proceed to take the blood sample to perform the test,” she said.

The VP said the authorities of the Ministry of Health will provide, starting on March 19, two daily reports (one in the morning and one in the afternoon), “so that we can inform our people of what we find.”

Murillo stressed that the contagion “is not native”, because it did not occur in Nicaragua. However, she failed to indicate whether the Government will maintain its decision not to close its borders and suspend international flights, as dozens of countries have done, including El Salvador.

Meanwhile, Salvadoran authorities stated on Twitter: “Although we are an air hub, we have been one of the last countries to register a case.” “Last week we carried out a total quarantine of the country and we have not allowed anyone to enter without being put in quarantine,” said Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele, speaking at a press conference.

Vulnerable Nicaragua

Public health specialists and epidemiologists have warned that the secrecy of the Ortega-Murillo regime in the face of the covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, and the limited information on how to prevent the disease has generated uncertainty in the country.

Even when the first case of coronavirus in Nicaragua was confirmed on March 18, the Ministry of Health (Minsa) has not explained to the population the measures it will implement.

The lackadaisical attitude of the health authorities can cause even more damage than the disease, noted epidemiologist Leonel Argüello in an interview on March 12.  Minsa has “the tests and training” necessary to diagnose the new coronavirus, whose symptoms are similar to seasonal influenza, but discretionary management towards everything related to this pandemic can negatively impact the health of the population, he warned a week ago.

In countries around the globe, including the Central American region, the presidents have placed themselves at the helm of their States actions to face the threat and spreading of the coronavirus. However, Ortega, a ruler absent from the covid-19 pandemic, has made no pronouncement to the nation about the coronavirus.

While Ortega is silent and hidden from the public, the government’s management of the pandemic has been assumed by Murillo, who, through her daily monologues in official media and written press releases, has given directives contrary to the indications to contain the virus, such as promoting big crowds of people at pro-government rallies and recreational activities and refusing to declare a preventive quarantine.

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