The coronavirus could cause more than 20,000 deaths in Haiti, the government scientific cell said on Friday, while calling for caution on the projections when the barrier measures are difficult to apply for the poor majority of the inhabitants.
“In the best possible scenario, we predict about 2,000 deaths but, depending on the evolution of the situation, we can take these forecasts and multiply them by five, by ten,” announced the Haitian epidemiologist Patrick Dely. “And in a catastrophic setting, we can go beyond 20,000 deaths,” he added during the first press conference of the scientific cell set up last month by the Haitian government.
With a population of 11.2 million, Haiti is still only at the beginning of the Covid-19 epidemic, with a total of 72 officially diagnosed cases and 5 deaths recorded, according to the latest report from the health authorities, published April 23rd.
Possible containment measures, such as those implemented in Italy and France, would be difficult to implement in the Caribbean country because the vast majority of inhabitants depend daily on the informal economy to survive.
The country’s medical system not being able to cope with a massive influx of patients, the dilemma of the Haitian authorities therefore consists in reducing the risks of contamination while allowing citizens to continue working.
The textile subcontracting industry, which employs nearly 60,000 people in Haiti, was allowed to partially resume operations on Monday after a month of downtime.
Only a third of the staff is allowed to be present simultaneously in the factories but, despite the low daily salary (500 gourdes or 4.90 US dollars), this return to work is vital for the employees because no unemployment insurance exists in Haiti.
Even before the outbreak of the health crisis, the UN already estimated that more than 40% of Haitians were in need of emergency humanitarian aid.