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US says spread of COVID-19 in Nicaragua exceeds official figures

May 11, 2020

The head of US diplomacy for Latin America, Michael Kozak, said Monday that there are several credible reports that the spread of the coronavirus in Nicaragua is much greater than the government’s data, which maintain that there are 16 cases.

“There are numerous, credible reports of much wider COVID-19 contagion in Nicaragua than official numbers show,” the diplomat said on Twitter. 

According to health authorities, Nicaragua has accumulated only 16 cases of coronavirus, among which there are five deaths since the first contagion was reported on March 18.

But according to an independent count carried out by the Citizen Observatory, in Nicaragua there are more than 780 suspected cases of COVID-19, which are treated or admitted to health units as pneumonia.

The US diplomat called on Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to “level with Nicaraguans about what’s really happening,” and to “fulfill the duties of his office and protect the Nicaraguan people.”

Ortega’s government has promoted marches, fairs and sports activities, contrary to the call for social distancing suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The United States supports a “maximum pressure” campaign — with sanctions and an asset blockade — to promote Ortega’s departure from power in Nicaragua, which since 2018 has been mired in a serious political crisis after the repression of opposition protests that left at least 328 dead, according to the IACHR.

Costa Rica has increased patrolling at its northern border with Nicaragua in an effort to limit imported cases of the coronavirus.

“We want to reassure citizens that everything in our power is being done,” said Costa Rica’s First Vice President, Epsy Campbell.

“The number of officers we regularly have at the border has multiplied by a lot and it is going to multiply a lot more. We have surveillance at strategic points in the border area.”

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