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11 Apr 2020 | 09:23 AM UTC

Haiti: Authorities close all roads with access to South Department for 15 days amid coronavirus disease (COVID-19) April 11 /update 4

South Department closes all access roads to curb transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) April 10-25; consequent disruptions expected as the disease continues to spread

health
transportation
HTI

Event

According to reports on Saturday, April 11, authorities announced the closure to roadway access into the South Department for a period of 15 days, effective from Friday, April 10, through Saturday, April, 25 to prevent the further spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the region. The enhanced measures were implemented as the department is one of the few regions of the country that has yet to record its first case of the disease, as reported by the Ministry of Health. The National Police of Haiti (PNH) has assured authorities within the department that they will assist with the enforcement of the 15-day restriction. 

Haitian regulatory authorities announced on Monday, April 6, that intermunicipal public transport between Les Cayes (Arrondissement des Cayes) and Port-au-Prince (Arrondissement des Port-au-Prince) will be suspended at midnight (local time) until further notice due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The decision to suspend the service along National Road 2 between the two cities was agreed by the Association of Owners and Drivers of Haiti (APCH) and the mayor's office of Les Cayes. According to authorities, any violation of the suspension will be penalized. Consequent disruptions to movement are to be expected between the two cities over the coming days and weeks.

On Thursday, March 19, President Jovenel Moïse declared a state of emergency following confirmation of the first two COVID-19 cases in the country. As a precautionary measure, all schools, factories, seaports, and airports have been closed, though land borders remain open for essential cargo. Commercial flights are also suspended, and a nationwide curfew between the hours of 20:00 to 05:00 (local time) remains in effect.

As of April 11, 31 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Haiti with two associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the coming days and weeks.

Context 

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.