COVID-19 in the Dominican RepublicLike many developing nations, the Dominican Republic suffered massively in several communities, due to COVID-19. While the virus’s impact does not discriminate against social class — the homeless and impoverished are inevitably the most vulnerable. Given that more than 40% of the country’s population lives below the poverty line, the severity of COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic is alarming.

The Statistics: Cases, Deaths and Hospitalizations

As of August 27, 2020, the Dominican Republic has approximately 92,964 confirmed cases and 1,630 deaths. In the nation, “the fatality rate for COVID-19 is 1.79% while positivity is around 29.64%.” Recent reports suggest about 7,000 hospitalizations and 19,600 patients requiring self-isolation. To date, roughly 64,347 patients have recovered.

The World Bank Assists

At the beginning of April 2020, the World Bank responded to a request from the government of the Dominican Republic. This agreement released $150 million to provide funds to help manage and contain the spread of COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic. Despite this financial supplementation, the nation’s cases eventually reached a peak in late July, days after declaring a second state of emergency. On August 18, 2020, the government held a conference called “Plan Para Enfrentar la Emergencia del COVID-19” or “The Plan to Deal with the COVID-19 Emergency.”

Here, the Ministry of Public Health announced that they are supplementing an additional 15,000 million pesos (totaling 66,000 from the original 51,000) toward the public health budget for the months of September–December 2020. The goal of this funding is to prevent an increase in contractions while providing sufficient healthcare attention to those already infected. They have also granted 2,000 previously uncovered Dominicans with health insurance. This statement was further elaborated; supporting that, if they test positive, any Dominican will receive the required medical assistance as needed. To track the spread and provide ample medical care, hospitals will perform 7,000 tests daily, instead of the regularly completed 3,000. They also plan to properly equip ten separate laboratories with PCR testing around the country.

More Governmental Initiatives

Additionally, the Ministry of Public Health has hired and trained 1,000 unemployed medical experts to facilitate treatment in hospitals. Also, they are planning to provide a 20% increase in available hospital beds by August 30, 2020. At the conference, president Luis Abinader urged for cooperation among the entire nation. Besides the school closures, mask requirements and level four travel advisory, the strength of the country against the virus depends on the collaboration of all individuals following mandated protocols.

However, the lack of adherence to guidelines has been noted frequently. Namely, in the less affluent communities, many are not following the strict curfews put in place. Instead, this disobedience leads to overcrowding in police stations; eliminating safe social distancing practices.

Oxfam’s Efforts

Oxfam International, a nonprofit organization committed to aiding developing nations in times of humanitarian crisis, has contributed greatly to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic. Their main effort is to grant financial assistance to those that have been temporarily unemployed due to the pandemic. They are prioritizing this aspect of the crisis because 50% of the population has experienced a cut or complete loss of income. Based on donations, they have been able to provide over 4,000 families with money transfers — enabling them to cover the costs of fundamental needs.

Camila Minerva Rodriguez, the Oxfam program director in the Dominican Republic, explains the additional installment of food voucher initiatives. During one day in northern Santo Domingo, she was able to provide 58 families with food vouchers, helping them afford grocery expenses.

In all, Oxfam’s efforts are aiding one specific, yet essential part of the daily struggles faced by Dominicans, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Samantha Acevedo-Hernandez
Photo: Flickr