Haiti + 1 more

Haiti – COVID-19: Flash Update No 6 As of 21 May 2020 (8:00 Haiti time)

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Situation Report
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This report is produced by OCHA Haiti in collaboration with PAHO/WHO, other UN agencies and humanitarian partners.

Key Messages

  • As of 21 May, 663 COVID-19 cases and 22 deaths have been confirmed in Haiti.

  • A first round of shipments of PPE and other equipment arrived in Haiti. However, a lack of PPE, oxygen, dedicated beds, materials for laboratory testing, and adequately trained staff still persists.

  • Five of 42 designated health facilities have been equipped for the management of COVID-19 cases. The preparation of COVID-19 case management structures is extremely challenging due to rejection by local communities.

  • Misinformation and denial among the population, expression of hostilities towards COVID-19 treatment structures and stigmatization towards affected people remain a concern.

Updates from the Government

  • As of 21 May, the Ministry of Health (MSPP) has reported 2,352 suspected cases, of which 663 have been confirmed. To date, 22 deaths and 21 cured patients have been reported.

  • The Multisectoral Commission for the Management of the COVID-19 Pandemic that oversees the coordination of the health response is finalizing with the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP) a detailed operational COVID-19 response plan with support from UN agencies.

  • In a press statement published on 30 April, the Prime Minister announced the mandatory wearing of face masks in all public spaces as of 11 May. This measure particularly applies to employees in their workplace, drivers, passengers of public transportation, people circulating in any public space, as well as in hospitals, shops, banks and any other private or public institutions.

  • The President announced on 15 May that all shipments of equipment and material for the COVID-19 response worth US$ 18 million that had been ordered by the Government had arrived in Haiti by air. The shipments include PPE (visors, surgical masks, N95 masks, and protective goggles), oxygen, oxygen generators, hospital beds and ventilators. More equipment is expected to arrive by 23 May.

  • According to local media, on 5 May, the first official meeting between Haitian and Dominican authorities took place since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, to discuss the bilateral cooperation to manage the crisis. During the meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries, among the points discussed were the mass repatriation of Haitian nationals to Haiti and the issue of visas for Haitian students in the Dominican Republic.

Key Issues

  • While five health facilities have already been prepared to treat COVID-19 patients, the identification of additional facilities in the departments remains a challenge due to rejection by local communities.

  • A number of incidents related to Protection were reported: Since the introduction of the curfew on 20 April, the Human Rights Unit of BINUH has observed at least four cases of ill-treatment, the last of which was on 28 April, by the police against persons in breach of the curfew. Expressions of hostilities against the preparation of health centres to receive COVID-19 patients were reported, in Port au Prince (Hôpital Bernard Meus), in Gonaives (Hôpital La Providence), and in Les Nippes in Chalon as well as Jacmel in the former MINUSTAH base. Another incident related to COVID-19 occurred on 3 May in Terrier Rouge (North-East Department), where a coffin was left in the street when residents opposed the burial of an individual they thought could have died of COVID-19. A mob wielding machetes and rocks blocked the entrance of the cemetery with burning tires. The HNP intervened to calm the situation.

  • IOM reported an estimated 17,271 border crossings between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in 50 border crossing points (4 official and 46 unofficial) between 26 April to 3 May, including deportations, voluntary returns and daily commute to purchase/sell goods. Out of these, 5,961 movements were registered towards the Dominican Republic and 11,310 towards Haiti (of which 2,414 were voluntary returns most of them carried out on the official border crossing points of Ouanaminthe and Belladère). The Haitian press has reported that the mayors of border municipalities such as Laschaobas (Centre) and Anse à Pitre (Southeast) have warned of their lack of capacity to provide health assistance to migrants arriving from the Dominican Republic through unofficial border points and staying in their municipalities.

  • Various scenarios are being discussed for the resumption of school activities as soon as the situation allows it. However, the lack of sanitation facilities in schools exacerbates the already existing risk of diseases, including COVID-19 situation. Given that only 45% of schools in Haiti have drinking water and only 30% have sanitary blocks, the inability to practice hygiene, especially hand washing to limit the spread of the virus, remains a significant challenge for the reopening of schools.

  • Regarding the expected deterioration of the food security situation due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a first rapid market assessment was conducted by the CNSA (National Food Security Coordination) in collaboration with WFP. The survey that was conducted in 11 communes, through phone calls to vendors and key informants, indicates reduced availability of products, in particular those locally produced, and an increase in prices of around 5%. Vendors also reported increased limitations for the functioning of markets namely the low purchasing power of the households, the lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene and handwashing materials and the liquidity shortages. While food security sector partners were able to provide food assistance equivalent of one month's food ration to 331,000 people in the first trimester of 2020 (40% in-kind assistance, 60% direct cash transfers or vouchers), the food security response continues to be underfunded for the coming months.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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