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  • Frantz Alcema,

MSF raises alarm over rapid spike in new cases of COVID-19 in Haiti

The number of people testing positive for the coronavirus inHaitihas spiked dramatically from 100 cases to more than 2,640 cases and 50 deaths in less than a month, said the medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Thursday.

The real numbers are likely much higher, said MSF, which opened the Drouillard COVID-19 treatment center in Port-au-Prince on May 16. There are currently only two laboratories in the country able to process COVID-19 tests, and people seeking treatment at MSF’s COVID-19 center are arriving late and in critically ill condition.

MSF has been caring for patients suffering from the most severe cases of the virus. Its teams are currently treating 25 patients in the center, many of whom are critically ill.

“Some patients come to us with positive test results, and others who are in need of oxygen or hospitalization are treated as we send their test to a government-run laboratory,” said Hassan Issa, MSF’s head of mission in Haiti.

There were originally 20 beds in the facility, but that has been expanded to a capacity of 45 beds to meet the needs. More than 150 patients have been registered, nearly half of whom have been admitted to the hospital. Approximately 50 others have been monitored on an outpatient basis by MSF teams.

The capital, Port-au-Prince, with a population of four million, is the epicenter of the disease, with nearly 75 percent of the total cases reported and 60 percent of the deaths. Sixty percent of the cases reported are between the age of 20-44, and 27 percent are between 45-65 years of age.

In Port-au-Prince as well as in the south of the country—specifically Port-à-Piment and Port-Salut—MSF has set up triage spaces and isolation units for COVID-19 patients in all health structures the organization supports. MSF has also installed a triage space and an isolation unit with a capacity of 10 beds in the main hospital in Les Cayes, located in the south of the country.

COVID-19 cases have been reported in all ten departments in the country, and the Haitian government has declared a state of emergency and is asking people to practice social distancing and wear masks. However, it has been impossible for most people to follow the measures, particularly those who live in the densely populated slums of the capital, where the highest number of cases have been reported.

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