María Mercedes Hernández assures that she has no doubts that her husband, the university professor Henry Quintanilla, 52, died from COVID-19. The suspicions are not only based on the symptoms of the disease that Quintanilla presented, but also on the way in which the Ministry of Health handled his funeral.
The Daniel Ortega government, unlike most countries, has ordered few measures to curb the pandemic. To date, the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health only reports eight deaths from this disease.
Hernández claimed to have been forced to bury her husband at 12 midnight, immediately after her death, without a wake or any type of religious ceremony, as is customary in Nicaragua.
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“I was forced to bury him at twelve at night and he died at six in the afternoon. They delivered it to me packed in a black bag, fumigated inside the box and from the hospital directly to the cemetery. At twelve o’clock at night we were burying him, ”Hernández told Voice of America.
Death certificate of death.
Quintanilla, a diabetic man who lived with his wife and son and worked at the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, visited the Bautista private hospital repeatedly and was only prescribed medication to treat pharyngitis.
However, on May 7 it was finally complicated. His wife relates that “the doctors are not allowed to put the exact name; they always put atypical pneumonia, but I’m sure he died of coronavirus. “
In the general cemetery of Managua silence reigns. The Voice of America tried to get an interview with one of the administrators, who declined, arguing that they required the authorization of the Managua Mayor’s Office, in charge of authorizing this process.
The case of Henry Quintanilla is one among many that are reported daily in the country. The image of Nicaraguan Health Ministry vans with coffins, workers in plastic suits and clandestine burials are becoming increasingly common.
In the cemetery, flower vendors and gravediggers claim to be witnesses to the strange burials, although they prefer to remain silent for fear of being retaliated against by the government.
Meanwhile, in the interior of the country the situation seems to be the same or worse. In the department of Chinandega, in the northwest, relatives of Alberto “Paraíso” Mendoza, considered one of the best softball pitchers of all time in Nicaragua, reported that the athlete died after suffering symptoms of COVID-19.
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The family member who asked to remain anonymous told the VOA that the sports figure was buried immediately after his death by personnel from the Ministry of Health: “They only asked for the box and gave us three hours to process it, and they managed to bury where he had land and not in a common grave, “he assured.
Managua Central Cemetery, Nicaragua.
When asked about the subject, epidemiologist Leonel Argüello explained that there are only three diseases whose corpses can be highly infectious. “Ebola, cholera and COVID-19, there are no more bodies,” said the specialist.
“A corpse normally at 48 hours is not infectious, so you can perfectly make a candle with a corpse that is not COVID-19. In this case, since there is no Ebola because that is in Africa and there are no deaths from cholera, then you have to think that all those who are buried there are COVID-19, ”he added.
When the pandemic began, the Ministry of Health established a protocol to bury those who died of COVID-19: without a wake or funeral, and determined that they would be delivered in sealed coffins for immediate burial.
Official information about the pandemic is strictly controlled by the Ortega government, which usually organizes sporadic press conferences to which not all the media are called. Authorities have resisted closing sites and taking isolation measures, claiming that the country’s economy cannot resist it.
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Independent groups such as the Citizen Observatory of COVID-19 in Nicaragua, for their part, monitor the issue, including figures that differ from those provided by the government.
Update May 9, 2020
* To date we report a cumulative of 1033 cases: 16 confirmed by MINSA, 16 MINSA suspects and 1001 suspects by Observatory.
* 188 pneumonia or suspected deaths.
* 122 health professionals with symptoms. pic.twitter.com/6Aspre1gGT
– Citizen Observatory COVID19 Nicaragua (@ObservatorioNi) May 12, 2020