Haiti – COVID-19: Flash Update No 3 As of 6 April 2020 (12:00 Haiti time)

Situation Report
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Key Messages

● As of 6 April, 24 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Haiti.

● Equipment and materials, including PPE, are still urgently needed.

● Government has set up additional mechanisms to coordinate the health response.

Updates from the Government

● As of 6 April, the Ministry of Health (MSPP) has reported 257 suspected cases, of which 24 have been confirmed by laboratory testing. To date, one death has been reported in the country.

● The government has set up a structure for crisis management under the authority of the Prime Minister, which includes three dedicated cells: a scientific cell, a communications cell and a cell for socio-economic response.

● The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) has asked the General Tax Directorate (DGI) to adopt, as of 1 April, measures to mitigate the anticipated negative impacts of the health crisis caused by COVID-19. Among these measures are the postponement of the date of payment of Income Tax and the cancellation of fines and penalties related to late payment.

● On 31 March, the MSPP informed pharmacies that, in order to avoid self-medication, chloroquine must be dispensed only upon presentation of a medical prescription.

● The Haitian National Police (PNH) has been mobilised to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 preventive measures, including the curfew, the ban on large gatherings and other measures to limit the risk of transmission.

● The Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training (MENFP) has set up a Task Force to respond to COVID19 in the education sector. This Task Force has been working closely with the UN in coordinating the response. A response plan for the Education sector has been prepared aiming, among other objectives, to enable distance learning for students and their return to school when feasible.

Key Issues

● The shortage in materials and equipment remains a major issue of concern. Several orders have been placed, however, the cost for PPE transportation to Haiti is extremely high and continues to rise. Regulations to ban PPE export from some countries exacerbates the problem . An evaluation of equipment needs for the next three months indicates that a large amount of PPE is required for an adequate response. Hospitals continue refusing to treat patients due to PPE shortages. For example, the “Hôpital Francais d’Haiti” temporarily suspended its emergency and hospitalization services, citing the inability to protect patients and service providers from the virus. This is also impacting the PNH, who are struggling to provide protective equipment to their officers which increases the risk of absenteeism. The NGO consortium CLIO has issued a press release emphasising the need for protective equipment for NGO staff in order to enable the continuity of humanitarian activities. To alleviate the issue of PPE shortages, discussions between the industrial manufacturing / textile sector, the RC/HC, PAHO/WHO and UNOPS are underway to assess the possibility of 1) meeting the required specifications, 2) guaranteeing that a % of productions stays in Haiti to meet local needs, and 3) augmenting production.

● The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports an estimated 96,000 border crossings between Haiti and the Dominican Republic between 17 and 29 March, including deportations, voluntary returns and daily crossings to purchase/sell goods, among others. An increase of voluntary returns of Haitians has been observed, notably at the official border crossing points of Ouanaminthe/Dajabon and Belladère/Elias Piña. Some people crossing the border were reportedly registered with fever upon arrival into Haiti.

● The COVID-19 crisis is expected to have a significant socio-economic impact. In addition to loss of income in the country, increase in unemployment among the Haitian diaspora in the United States could have a negative economic impact through the reduction in remittances. Investment in social protection programmes is therefore essential and discussions are ongoing with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour (MAST) regarding appropriate policy development.

● The identification of dedicated COVID-19 health care facilities is proving to be a real challenge. One of the reasons for this is that communities living around the facilities that are currently being considered by the MSPP are unwilling to have COVID-19 patients in their areas.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.