Covid control lessons from Nicaragua and the Isle of Man | Letters

The UK should take the lead from Nicaragua, where early strict measures have kept the coronavirus death rate one of the lowest in the world, writes John Perry. Plus Harry Galbraith on the approach taken by the Isle of Man

In learning lessons about how to handle Covid-19, another country could be added to the list (The UK and the US need to learn from countries that better handled Covid-19, 29 December). The Johns Hopkins University data shows that Nicaragua has one of the lowest death rates per 100,000 population in the world – 2.55 compared with over 100 for both the UK and the US. The pandemic has abated here even while it is resurgent in the US and Europe. Currently there are just 55 Covid-19 patients in Nicaragua’s public hospitals.

Although Nicaragua has had no lockdown, three factors appear to have been important, in addition to the country having a relatively young population. One is that, at an early stage, house-to-house visits took place, using trained volunteers, to dispense advice on how to avoid infection. A second is that in suspected cases other family members had to quarantine, and this was monitored actively by health officials. The third was that there were relatively few international travellers, but all had to quarantine and compliance was enforced.

As Laura Spinney says, many of the measurable factors in managing the pandemic have proved to be poor indicators of the outcome, as was the assumption that richer countries would do better. Another factor is that many tropical countries have had experience of dealing with other epidemics. They’ve learned what works best for them, even if this runs counter to what the experts advise in the US or Europe.
John Perry
Masaya, Nicaragua

• Unmentioned by Laura Spinney in her article, the Isle of Man has perhaps been the best community in its handling of the virus. The island went into complete lockdown at the beginning of March, and since the start of June lives have been free of the virus and children have been back at school. The only remaining restriction is closed borders. True, the island is a small community of 85,000 but, looking at what has happened in the UK, the difference has been the strictness of the population in following the rules.

Earlier in December it was suggested that if Boris Johnson did not relax the rules over Christmas, people would ignore them. That is why lockdown has failed in the UK. Over here, we cannot see that you have yet had a lockdown that people have really paid heed to.
Harry Galbraith
Peel, Isle of Man

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