One Caribbean nation has healed all its coronavirus patients, while another could be facing a catastrophic situation.
St. Lucia only recorded 15 COVID-19 diagnoses, and all those patients have been treated and released from the hospital as of Friday.
“We note that this is as a result of the collective efforts of our health professionals working collaboratively to manage our cases and the sacrifices made by the public during the period of shut down,” the St. Lucian Ministry of Health said in a press release. Despite this achievement, officials want civilians to remain cautious.
“Though this 100 percent recovery rate provides us with a milestone worth recognizing, we at the Ministry of Health continue to caution the public that any gains attained should not be understood as a reason to let down our guard or to throw caution to the wind,” the statement continued.
St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet also urged residents to continue to follow social distancing guidelines, The St. Lucia Times reported. The country’s state of emergency declaration will remain in place until May 31.
“We continue to encourage the public to practice social distancing, frequent sanitation and the use of respiratory masks when in public. Please remember to limit contact with other persons and to remain home if you feel sick,” Chastanet said in a statement.
While St. Lucia, with a population of some 183,000 people, is on the mend, Haitian leaders are worried the pandemic will be another blow to that already struggling nation of 11 million people. Only 72 diagnoses and five deaths have been confirmed in Haiti, but an influx of deported nationals and workers trying to escape the neighboring Dominican Republic make the island nation more vulnerable.
The Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, has been ravaged by the virus, according to The New York Times. More than 5,000 people have been diagnosed and 245 people have died. Consequently, Haitian workers who had been working in DR are trying to come home. Additionally, a plane carrying 129 deportees from the United States landed on Thursday.
Medical officials are scrambling to prepare for what Dr. Jean William “Bill” Pape calls a “monster.”
Pape is in charge of the Gheskio clinic in Port-au-Prince, which commonly treats AIDS and TB patients. He’s working on setting up COVID-19 treatment stations.
To properly combat an outbreak, he would need 6,000 beds. Pape has less than 100. Additionally, it’s hard to practice preventative hygiene when most residents have a hard time accessing clean water.
“If a place like New York can be so overwhelmed, how is Haiti going to deal with this?” Pape asked The New York Times.
To make matters worse, Haitians’ distrust of the government could make it difficult to get people to follow coronavirus protocol. The country has been in turmoil due to protests over government corruption.
“People don’t believe it because it’s coming from the government,” explained Haitian entrepreneur Karl Jean-Louis. Residents have already protested the government’s restriction of the open market to three days a week. Most Haitians live on less than $2.41 a day, so missing a market day is a major financial hit.
At this point, everyone is preparing for the worst because Haiti does not expect much aid, according to Franck Généus, who oversees the private hospitals that account for 40 percent of Haiti’s health care system.
“Basically we are alone,” he told NYT. “For once, we need to solve this ourselves.”