Three health-care workers sitting around a table.
A team from the Doctors Without Borders Drouillard Hospital in Cite Soleil, Haiti, work in the Covid-19 patient care area on June 3 2020. (Pierre Michel Jean/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
Miami HeraldJacqueline Charles 12-16-20

Mask-wearing is an exception and not the norm; bands are playing to sold-out crowds; and Kanaval, the three-day pre-Lenten debauchery-encouraging street party is back on for February.

This is not a case of a population simply in denial. In a country of roughly 11 million people, there have been an astoundingly low 234 confirmed deaths related to the novel coronavirus. Across the border in the neighboring Dominican Republic, with roughly the same population, the pandemic has killed almost ten times the number, 2,364. Jet off to Miami-Dade County, home to one of the larger Haitian communities in the United States, and the death toll is even higher: 4,002 in a population of 2.7 million.

What’s going on? Nobody is sure.

“We don’t have a large quantity of people who are in bad shape,” said Dr. Sophia Cherestal Wooley, deputy medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières in Port-au-Prince. “They don’t get sick to the point that they need to be hospitalized and we don’t have the same quantity of people who have died here like in the Dominican Republic.

“Sincerely, I don’t have an explanation as to why,” she said. “We cannot say that the virus isn’t in circulation and I don’t think Haiti has a different virus that’s circulating. It’s the same as the others because there have been no studies saying otherwise.”

Shortly after the first imported case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Haiti on March 19, epidemiologists raised alarms. Taking into account Haiti’s weak health system, crowded living conditions and the population’s skepticism about the virus, they feared that the country, which has seen so much tragedy, would be overwhelmed by COVID-19 infections. to read more.