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Only Nicaragua continues to demand PCR tests in Central America

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Nicaragua is already the only country from North America to the entire Central America that continues to require a negative PCR test for SAR-CoV-2 as a requirement to enter the country, after the rest of the nations lifted this restriction due to the expansion of vaccination against covid-19 worldwide.

The last country in these regions to eliminate the immigration requirement was USA. As announced by the Presidency of Joe Biden, as of Sunday, June 12, 2022, the mandatory measure to enter this country was revoked and from now on travelers will only have to present their proof of complete vaccination.

In Nicaragua, the immigration requirement for Health was imposed from July 14, 2020 and To date, it is the only mandatory prevention measure that the Government of Daniel Ortega has ordered to contain and control the transmission of covid-19; while at the national level it promotes contagion with massive events and hides the true impact of the pandemic, which according to excess mortality estimates exceeded 14,800 deaths in the first two years.

This sanitary measure has been used by the Ortega regime as an excuse to deny entry to foreigners and “unwelcome” nationals in the country. Last April, reporter Camilo Loret de Mola and cameraman César Torero, from the television channel Mega TV, based in the United States, were deported to El Salvador for “problems with their covid-19 exam.” The pattern has been repeated with relatives of political prisoners.

In accordance with health regulations, travelers who intend to enter Nicaragua by air or land must fill out a form from the Ministry of the Interior where they provide their personal information (name, profession, telephone number, passport, etc.) at least seven days before of the trip, as well They must send their airline a negative PCR test for the Ministry of Health (Minsa) to authorize their entry into the country.

El Salvador was the first Central American country to eliminate PCR tests as a migratory requirement and this year Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica and Panama joined, nations that now request only the card or proof of vaccination as proof that the traveler completed their scheme. In Nicaragua, This measure has not been taken despite the “great progress in vaccination”, which according to the official report already reaches 92% of the population with one dose and 81.5% with a complete schedule of two or three doses.

Minsa continues to monopolize PCR tests

In Nicaragua, The Ministry of Health (Minsa) is the institution that has control of the PCR tests. Unlike the rest of the region, where private laboratories were authorized to carry out these tests, in Nicaragua only the National Center for Diagnosis and Reference (CNDR) of the Minsa is authorized to carry them out at a cost of 150 dollars, a sum that exceeds the average minimum wage in the second poorest country in the entire Latin American continent.

It is unknown how many PCR tests the Minsa has sold and how much the profit has been for them. The latest data on the number of tests carried out indicates that since 2020 they have taken 196,380 samples, but the detail is not specified if these include those made for travel purposes.

The budget execution reports do not detail the amount of income for the tests carried out. Nevertheless, The item “income received from the sale of goods and services” reflects an increase of 535% for “health services and permits”, that could be related to the PCR tests.

According to official data, before the pandemic, 130.66 million córdobas entered the government coffers for this item, in 2020 the amount earned was C$ 188.08 million, which represents an increase of 43.9%; but In 2021, 1,193 million córdobas (more than 34 million dollars) were collected, which is equivalent to six times more than the previous year.

This year there was also a greater opening in the resumption of travel that there was not in 2020, due to the closure of borders due to the pandemic. According to data from the General Directorate of Migration and Immigration, there were 372,437 Nicaraguans who traveled abroad and of these, 115,476 left by air.. The countries with the highest destination were Costa Rica, the United States, Honduras and Guatemala.

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