SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — As Puerto Rico considers lifting pandemic quarantine restrictions, health officials say the U.S. territory passed its peak of coronavirus cases and related deaths more than two months ago. However, independent experts said those numbers are in doubt.
Health Department consultant Miguel Valencia said at a news conference Wednesday that Puerto Rico’s confirmed COVID-19 cases peaked at 84 cases on March 31 and deaths at six on April 6. Overall, Puerto Rico has reported more than 5,300 confirmed cases and at least 143 deaths on the island of 3.2 million people.
Health Secretary Lorenzo González says the data will be taken into account when Gov. Wanda Vázquez decides whether to allow curfew and quarantine restrictions to expire on Monday. Those orders bar everyone except essential workers from being outside from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.
But critics complain the island has done too little testing and most of what has been done used the wrong sort of tests.
Roberta Lugo, a Puerto Rico-based epidemiologist and consultant, told The Associated Press that the official statistics are based on a very limited number of reliable molecular tests that look for current infections.
She says most confirmed cases were detected by serological testing, which checks for antibodies and indicate someone was exposed at some undetermined point. She said 80% of detections should come from the tests for a current infection.