“We are not prepared at all”

“The monster is coming!” and “No escape!” The local newspapers leave little room for a different interpretation of the current situation in Haiti. Corona also finds its way here and people are afraid. Will this be the biggest disaster of all time for Haiti?

When the first outbreaks of Covid-19 in Haiti were detected, the virus seemed to be moving slowly. This was also because the country had been “cut off” from the rest of the world for some time due to protests and negative travel advice. Unfortunately, it now seems to be going the other way. This is caused by returning Haitians from heavily troubled areas in the Dominican Republic. They worked there but many have been fired and return home carrying the virus.

Sick people who are stopped at the border must be quarantined. There is no suitable location for this. People run away or refuse to quarantine. Of the people who become
referred to hospitals many choose not to go. Doctors in the country suspect tens of thousands of people will become ill in the country. Many doctors try to prepare as well as possible for the upcoming patients, but there is a shortage of everything and the costs associated with the preparation are extremely high. Too often, Haitians die from diseases that are easy to treat. If people already die from diarrhea, how can one survive the coronavirus?

It is estimated that the country has only 40 respirators, of which perhaps 20 are operating. Many doctors do not know how to operate these machines at all. The Haitian government has still tried to import all necessary materials, however
it is feared that it will be too little and too late. Doctor after doctor admits, “We’re not prepared at all.” For many villages in Haiti, the cities and hospitals are virtually inaccessible. When corona hits their village, there is no escaping it.

Corona has also broken out in the country’s largest prison, located in the heart of Port-au-Prince. More than 3,500 prisoners currently reside here, while there is actually only room
is for 778 prisoners. The prison is overcrowded and hygiene leaves a lot to be desired.

Then the problem remains that the Haitians seem to have to be convinced of the seriousness of the situation. The shops and supermarkets where the Haitian elite comes, the measures are good
for each other. Disinfection points, compulsory wearing of face masks, keeping distance, etc. But in the markets – where the rest of the population has to get their food – these measures are not adhered to; this is also not feasible. About 60 percent of Haitians live below the poverty line. Choose to stay at home
is impossible for them. For them, staying at home simply means no food.

Haiti has many faces. On the one hand, there is the ignorance of the Haitians who do not believe that the corona virus really exists. Because the news comes from the government and confidence in the government is minimal. On the other hand, there are those who believe it and put the blame on the government. Protests against the government were already underway before the outbreak of Covid-19
day. This has now only gotten worse and worse with corona. The Haitians feel that they are all alone.

Publication date / last change: 10 Jul 2020