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Minsa hides covid-19 test data in CNDR laboratory

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  • Minsa hides covid-19 test data in CNDR laboratory


    Minsa hides covid-19 test data in CNDR laboratory
    It is estimated that the CNDR "has carried out 5,900 tests of covid-19, of which 1,600 have tested positive, or 27%"
    May 17, 2020

    "The data of 25 covid-19 positive patients that the Ministry of Health has disclosed is not true," a source linked to the Government, who has learned of the results of the tests carried out at the National Center for Diagnosis and Reference (CNDR), located in the "Conchita" Palacios National Health Complex, the Minsa headquarters, in Managua, where the testing is centralized.

    "They are not reporting the truth, nor the true results of the tests carried out in the CNDR laboratory," the government source who is concerned about the advance of the pandemic in the phase of community contagion reiterates to CONFIDENCIAL, and "the imposition of political criteria on decisions in which the science and experience of technicians and doctors should prevail ”.

    CONFIDENCIAL consulted three sources linked to the Ministry of Health that have had partial or total access to the data from the CNDR tests: "The official reports are made up by political criteria, there is an order to record indeterminate results" they coincide, and "they do not reflect the laboratory findings. "

    5600 tests and 1600 positives

    A few weeks after the start of the crisis, when the first positive “imported” case was registered, on March 18, the Ministry of Health directed a maximum of 50 tests per day in the CNDR.

    The samples came from assigned quotas from the different hospitals and the Local Comprehensive Health Care Systems (SILAIS) from different parts of the country, under the direct supervision of the Minister of Health. Then the sample size was increased and up to 300 tests are processed daily, from public and private hospitals, always under the tutelage of the highest authorities of the Minsa, confirmed CNDR workers.

    A source linked to the Ministry of Health estimates that by increasing the sample size, "some 5,900 tests have been processed, of which 4,300 were negative, and 1,600 were positive", for a contagion rate of 27%. "With this trend, thousands of daily tests should be carried out throughout the national territory, to know the true dimension of the pandemic and especially the circulation of asymptomatic cases," he warned.

    The data refutes the official version of the Government, which has minimized the impact of the pandemic, denying the start of the “community contagion” phase, and even exceeds the estimates of the COVID-19 Citizen Observatory, made up of independent doctors, which until May 13 documents 1270 suspected cases and 266 deaths attributable to the coronavirus.

    In the CNDR there is contagion at the highest level

    A week ago, CONFIDENCIAL revealed the existence of several positive cases of covid-19 detected among the staff of the CNDR laboratories, at the Minsa headquarters, reported by workers from that center. Sources linked to the Ministry of Health confirmed that the contagion has spread to officials of the highest level of the Ministry, among whom is the secretary general who operates as director of the CNDR, and is also the political secretary of the FSLN in the Minsa.

    A source from the CNDR confirmed that the director had tested positive since the beginning of the second week of May, and although he was asymptomatic, he appeared at a television conference on Tuesday, May 12, without wearing a mask, or another measure to prevent the spread of the virus, Although unlike previous conferences, the room was empty of pro-government journalists and officials and there was only a single generic microphone, and not the battery of pro-propaganda media devices.

    Also the directors of the areas of Bacteriology, Virology, Tuberculosis, Parasitology, Sanitary Chemistry and the Administration area were positive for covid-19, after having tested all the CNDR staff, and they are working from home.

    Laboratory workers assure that the CNDR "looks like a big deserted office", but the operations are being directed via phone calls from the houses by the infected directors.

    “Even the meetings and activities that were already scheduled continue standing, as if nothing happened. We workers have a lot of tension and nervousness, ”says a source from the CNDR.

    The contagion has spread even more among workers in the administrative area and could amount to 45% of all the plant staff of the scientific center, made up of 110 people.

    "At home blacksmith, wooden knife"

    However, the contagion in the National Center for Diagnosis and Reference is not attributed to failures in the laboratory, but to the "community contagion" that is expanding in the country.

    “There was no mishandling of the samples in the laboratory, nor bad practices by professional technicians; the cause is the impact of community contagion on the staff, ”says a source linked to the Ministry of Health.

    The first positive case was detected on Tuesday, May 5 in a person from the administrative area, and from that moment more workers tested positive. For that week, not even those in charge of testing covid-19 in the Virology laboratory were wearing protective masks.

    According to sources from the Complex, there was a general failure on the part of the CNDR management, not to alert and not to guide workers to practice prevention and protection measures. "In a blacksmith's house, a wooden knife," lamented the source. “They came contaminated from their neighborhoods and communities, and they infected many more. That was the determining factor, until they started sending positive people home, "he added.

    Positive cases of CNDR are being sent home for 14 days, with medical treatment such as: paracetamol, azithromycin and chloroquine (a medicine for malaria). However, for those who remain in the focus of contagion, the safety and protection conditions do not improve.

    "The Ministry since before the covid-19 crisis already had deficiencies, it is difficult for them to improve, especially at this time," says another laboratory worker.

    The laboratory is the least affected by contagion

    The CNDR laboratory where the covid-19 tests are carried out is the least affected by the casualties caused by community contagion, despite the fact that the head of the Virology area was diagnosed as a positive case and now runs the laboratory by telephone.

    Sources linked to the Ministry of Health assure that the laboratory has experienced professional staff, prepared to process the covid-19 tests, and continue to do so on a regular basis. However, they fear that the increase in contagion in the Complex could slow down the performance of the tests when the country needs to massify the sampling.

    This week, laboratory personnel undergoing the covid-19 test had to wait a little longer than 24 hours to receive the result, while people who did it the week before received the result the same day at night. "They are prioritizing and the evidence is accumulating," says a CNDR worker.

    The team has three people responsible for analyzing the results, while others are in charge of encoding, introducing and digitizing the samples, macerating and extracting the RNA, or genetic information of the virus through the diagnosis of PCR, (its acronym in English for: Polymerase chain reaction). The Virology laboratory has three PCR instruments, with the capacity to process a batch of 90 samples each.

    "Only reading the results takes about three hours without including the rest of the procedures," says a source from the laboratory.

    A scientific center under political control

    The CNDR has been classified by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) as a "third generation" laboratory with advanced diagnostic instruments "to respond to alerts, with precise, effective and cost-effective techniques", however, workers from the CNDR affirm that the political part of Minsa and the Government are overshadowing and dominating the scientific part of the center.

    “In the CNDR there are highly trained personnel with decades of experience, qualified scientists who have been subjected to political guidelines. Science must lead the CNDR to be at the service of the population's health, and the prevention of the epidemic, ”questions a source linked to the Ministry of Health.

    In a video about the CNDR facilities, broadcast by official media, the director of Virology details that the tests of the Center are processed under two types of protocols: that of Hong Kong and that of Germany.

    The use of two protocols, says a scientific expert, should ensure that the test results are accurate. "If you are positive in both, you have more than confirmed that a result is positive, there is no margin for error," he explains.

    The information circulating in the official reports of the Ministry of Health, which is also managed by the Presidency of the Republic, is dominated by the mention of "indeterminate" results. "An inconclusive sample is sent to repeat, because there was presence of some virus, but not enough for the team to mark it as positive," says the scientific source.

    The tests are based on the detection of the genetic material of the virus that detects its presence or absence. PCR also allows the sample to be quantified, so that the result it gives is positive or negative, it cannot be "indeterminate".

    However, the command line of the National Center for Diagnosis and Reference is not in the Ministry of Health, but depends on the wife of President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo. "She gives orders to the secretary general of Minsa, who in practice is the director general of the Center, where the others are obliged to carry out orders," concludes the source linked to the Ministry of Health.