Love In The Time of COVID-19: Negligence In The Nicaraguan Response

Apr 9, 2020 | Academic resources, All posts, Relevant news and stories

A recent paper examines the response of the Nicaraguan government’s response to COVID-19 and finds out the drawbacks and gaps in the state response.

Directly contradicting mitigation strategies recommended by WHO, the Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega refused to encourage any physical distancing measures. Vice President Rosario Murillo (Daniel Ortega’s wife) instead called on thousands of sympathisers to congregate in street marches under the slogan “love in the time of COVID-19”.

The paper argues that by downplaying the danger of the pandemic and increasing the risk of community transmission in the second-poorest country in the western hemisphere, the Nicaraguan government is violating the human rights of its citizens.

Nicaragua is the only country in Central America that has yet to declare a state of emergency in response to the outbreak. Although the country has recommended self-quarantine for travellers coming from particular countries, the government has not restricted travel, closed borders or, most importantly, suspended schooling or public events.

A leaked document from the Nicaraguan Health Ministry has underscored the probable consequences of this haphazard response. Public health officials have privately predicted that up to 32 500 Nicaraguans could test positive for COVID-19, 8,125 of whom could have severe symptoms and 1,016 of whom might require intensive care beds. Nicaragua has only 160 ventilators available, 80% of which are currently in use. If the government’s senior leadership continues to ignore calls for strong mitigation efforts, the fragile public health infrastructure could collapse under the pressure of widespread infection.

The paper can be accessed here.