Five children are hospitalized in critical condition after being infected with dengue fever in Nicaragua, where on the weekend a Cuban epidemiological delegation arrived to help fight the epidemic, a top government official said.

Among the infected children is Stefany Sanchez, a 5-year-old girl who has been fighting for her life since last Friday, said Nicaragua's first lady, Rosario Murillo, who is also the coordinator of the Communications Council.

The other children who are in critical condition were identified as Merari Martinez, 7; Sofia Herrera, 14; Maria Jose Rodriguez, 15, and Fernando Escoto, also 15.

"We're all watching the progress of these little brothers and sisters," Murillo said.

In total, Nicaragua has registered 1,202 hospitalizations due to dengue fever, including the five children the first lady mentioned.

She also reported that another 49 dengue cases had been diagnosed on Saturday, bringing the total number of known cases nationwide to 8,844. So far, 16 people have died from the disease during the current epidemic.

A red alert for dengue fever was issued on Oct. 24 by the Nicaraguan government.

The Cuban delegation of disease specialists was dispatched to the Central American country to help the local Health Ministry deal with the viral epidemic. 

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