An island of the blessed seems to be Nicaragua in the middle of a corona-infested world. “Nicaragua has not issued any kind of quarantine and does not intend to.” This was promised by Health Minister Carolina Dávila Murillo at the end of February when the virus was already spreading in North and South America.
Little has changed in this position to date. Last Monday, however, the government could not avoid recommending a two-week domestic quarantine to people entering from countries with “active infection”.
Last week, a military that had spent two days in Panama was tested positive. Only the state and government-friendly media were invited to the press conference on the first Corona case in Nicaragua. The authorities treat the corona pandemic as a state secret.
Two cases are now being admitted. Both are “imported” infections. Daniel Ortega’s authoritarian regime has neither closed schools nor restricted business, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and as the neighboring countries of Costa Rica and El Salvador are already doing.
People gnaw at disaster drills
Vice President and wife Rosario Murillo focus on “municipal action”. It had a nationwide exercise for the “disaster case” held on Saturday. Many people came into close physical contact – exactly the opposite of what would be indicated according to the WHO.
Opposition media such as the online newspaper Confidencial had to call the hospitals to at least get evidence of further infections. It became clear that several suspected cases had been tested on Corona.
The oppositional Coalición Nacional de Nicaragua, therefore, sent a letter to the WHO on Monday in which it accuses Daniel Ortega’s government of “a policy of secrecy and denial” of the Covid-19 threat.
In the letter, the opposition members are particularly concerned about the “precarious situation” of the at least 61 political prisoners, including several people over 60 and with chronic illnesses. Since a bloody downturned nationwide uprising against Ortega two years ago, opponents of the regime have been persecuted with special laws. Demonstrations are being criminalized.
Nicaragua’s health care system is not prepared for the exponential spread of acute lung disease. There is less than one hospital bed per 1,000 residents. According to official data, the whole country has no more than 160 ventilators. Nevertheless, Daniel Ortega continues to appease and calls on the population to storm the beaches like every year during the Easter holidays.
What the government does not prescribe, however, seems to be gradually taking place, namely the drastic shutdown of public life. The Gildan Group, which employs more than 11,000 people at various locations, sent the workforce home until after Easter. In addition to the risk of infection, the motive given is that no more substances are coming from the suppliers in Honduras since the factories there are already at a standstill.
And air traffic has dropped to 23.9 percent of its previous volume because more and more airlines no longer fly to the country. In the next few days, the American and American lines will also cease their flights to Nicaragua.