The Ministry of Health (Minsa) reported that the number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in Panama rose to 334,463, while deaths increased to 5,694 in total.
It details that for this Thursday, February 18, 708 new infections of COVID-19 and 21 new deaths are counted and 1 death is also updated, maintaining a case fatality rate of 1.7%.
In the last 24 hours, 8,758 new tests have been carried out to detect COVID-19 and the positivity rate is 8%.
The statement adds that 1,229 people are currently hospitalized in the ward and 217 patients are kept in intensive care units.
11,337 active cases are registered, of which 9,514 remain in isolation at home and 377 are in hospital hotels.
On the other hand, it indicates that to date some 317,432 people have recovered.
Some observers have argued that the Minsa reported case fatality rate (number of COVID linked deaths / number of known cases) in reality should be much lower, as the number of reported cases does not necessarily reflect the truth, as the testing does not cover the whole population, and many cases go undetected. At the same time, the government can't report what they don't know, but readers should note that the numbers may tell a different story from the reality.
Also, the method used in Panama to define how a 'COVID death' is counted is also unclear, as many of the deaths correspond to underlying previous conditions, such as cancer, blood diseases, other age related diseases etc., and are reported as COVID deaths since the patient also had the coronavirus. On the other hand, many viruses are known to lower the patient's immunity and expose them to other diseases. As an example most HIV/AIDS patients don't die from the virus itself, but from other derived diseases such as pneumonia or regular flu.
There have also been reports on the inaccuracy of the PCR test, which would compromise the figures mentioned above.
In lack of better information sources, PanaTimes continues to publish reports with the government (Minsa) announced figures. Readers are adviced to use their own judgement. We are happy to publish more accurate reports, if they become available to us or our contributors.