‘Express burials’ hide true COVID-19 picture in Nicaragua
Managua: Doctors are warning of looming COVID-19 chaos in Nicaragua, where victims’ families and the opposition accuse President Daniel Ortega’s government of ordering "express burials" to hide the true number of infections.
To date, the Central American country has confirmed just 25 cases of the coronavirus and eight deaths. But rights groups and experts believe the numbers are far higher.
"We are entering a phase of rapid community spread of the virus," epidemiologist Alvaro Ramirez told AFP.
"As the exponential curve continues to increase and more people become infected, we are going to get a chaotic situation."
In contrast to restrictions in other Latin American countries, Nicaragua has been criticized for an almost complete absence of measures to contain the virus.
Ortega’s government has kept schools and offices open and maintained crowd-pulling events like the national soccer league.
Hospital staff report a health system overwhelmed by patients with respiratory illnesses, and relatives say the bodies of loved ones are being carted off in pick-up trucks for "express burials" without their consent.
"Mourners are forced to chase trucks with the coffin to find out where their loved ones are being buried," the opposition National Coalition said in a statement denouncing government secrecy.
Relatives "are threatened by police or paramilitaries so that they do not tell the truth about the causes of death," it said. - AFP