Coronavirus Covid-19 Bulletin #648/ 26 December 2021

Covid-19 #648

The Ministry of Public Health Coronavirus Bulletin #648 with the deadline of 26 December 2021 reports 478 new cases, down from the previous day. While the Omicron variant is spreading around the world, the Ministry of Public Health received confirmation from the Gorgas Memorial Laboratory in Panama that the variant is circulating here. The increase in cases has brought about the cancellation of several public and private events that called for people gathering programmed for the New Year holidays.

Bulletin #648 reports active Covid-19 cases are at 2,928, up from the previous day. The number of active cases is minimal when compared to the peak of 55,773 active cases registered in July 2021, and is evidence the vaccines are working. With around 65% of the population vaccinated with least two doses of vaccine, and 78% with at least one dose, the population has successfully dealt with the Delta variant-dominating fourth wave outbreak. The wave has been mild and has dissipated. A recent University of Yale study attributes the situation to the fact that most of the population has received two Sinovac vaccines and a large percentage has already received the Pfizer booster in time for when the Delta variant arrived from abroad and caused a fourth wave of virus spread. The Omicron variant is expected to become the dominant strain bringing a fifth wave. So far, reports are that cases reported in the Dominican Republic have been mostly in persons without symptoms or those of a mild cold.

The most Covid-19 PCR-registered cases are in Greater Santo Domingo (the National District and Santo Domingo province) followed by Santiago, the country’s second largest city.

The national 4-week positivity rate for the 26 December 2021 Epidemiological Bulletin #648 is at 4.61%, down from the previous day. The 24-hour positivity for the day is 17.01%, 10 percentage points up from the previous day.

The positivity rates is below 10% in all 31 provinces and the National District for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

The authorities continue to unfold efforts to override resistance to vaccination in many population groups that allege religious reasons and among others who distrust the vaccines or have just not taken the time to get vaccinated. The authorities seek to disavow the counsel of many evangelical pastors and Roman Catholic priests who are known to strongly discourage vaccinating among their followers. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians that live in the Dominican Republic have also rejected getting vaccinated for cultural and religious reasons.

The daily number of vaccines administered has been gradually declining after the peak of 83,745 doses for the 22 October 2021 deadline. The record vaccinations for one day is 184,208 on 10 June 2021. For the 24 December deadline, Our World in Data reports a low 5,351 first and second dose vaccines were applied. The rolling 7-day average as of 24 December 2021 deadline is now at 7,462 vaccines applied per day.

The VacunateRD government website reports injecting 6,934,218 first doses of the vaccine and 5,692,235 second doses for the 27 December 2021 report deadline.

The National Vaccination Plan recommends a booster shot different from the first two doses to be applied a month after the second dose of the Sinovac vaccine and three months after the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The Pfizer booster vaccine is being applied to persons with co-morbidities and seniors, and at demand in select vaccination stations. For the 27 December 2021 deadline, the Ministry of Public Health had reported that 1,416,207 people had received the Pfizer third booster shot, mostly people older than 50 years, but the vaccine is available on demand for all age groups. The government is encouraging all with the first two shots to get the booster shot, especially with the entry of new variants. The government issued Resolution #69 that mandates that the booster shot is obligatory for entry to many public spaces as of 31 January 2022. A second shot is available for seniors and front line workers.

The booster shot is also available for Dominicans living abroad. Because of the cold storage requirements for the Pfizer shot, it is available at main city vaccination centers.

As of mid-December, more than 65% of the adult population is already fully vaccinated (two doses or more) in the Dominican Republic, but the government has vaccine stocks for 100%+ and wants more people to get the jab. 78% of the population has at least one dose. Likewise, Health Cabinet statistics indicate that 17% of the population has the third booster dose. Likewise, 70% of adolescents ages 12 to 17 years have had the first dose and 47% have had two doses.

The vaccinations have spared the population a major spike in Covid-19 cases even with the entry of more aggressive variants. The Presidency has removed curfew restrictions nationwide and the new measures seek to motivate those that have not been vaccinated to get with it.

As of 18 October 2021, the government is requiring physical or digital proof that people be fully vaccinated for entering government offices, public transport and schools. The government said those that apply their first dose in October will be allowed to enter the public spaces and use public transport.

The goal is that at least 70% of the adult population be fully vaccinated. The authorities say the vaccines have protected people that catch the disease from being hospitalized. Death numbers and hospitalizations continue to be under control despite the recent surge in cases.

The 478 new cases for bulletin #648 compare to the 7-day nationwide average for confirmed cases that is 403, up from the previous day. Back to school, opening of night time entertainment centers, removal of curfew and circulation restrictions bring people together and serve to spread Covid. This is in addition to the circulation of the variants, including Gamma, Alpha, Delta and Mu and now Omicron.

In the Dominican Republic, since the elimination of curfew on 11 October 2021, most restrictions have been erased and there are many activities that congregate thousands of people, such as the current winter baseball professional championship, shopping and family and friends mingling for the holidays. The entertainment industry is also back, with packed audiences in both open and closed venues. There is concern the larger number of Dominicans visiting for the holidays may increase the number of cases in circulation. Compliance of masking is waning, yet people still routinely wear masks in stores.

As per Bulletin #648, with the deadline of 26 December 2021, the Ministry of Public Health has registered 414,704 PCR-confirmed cases since the first case on 1 March 2020. Labs carried out 2,810 first-time tests. This number of tests compares with the 14-day average now at 4,159, up from the previous day.

The Ministry of Public Health is monitoring the new variants and their impact in the Dominican Republic as curfew restrictions are reduced to a minimum. The Ministry says unvaccinated people are driving the spread of the disease.

The government is betting on getting more people vaccinated. While there is an increase in cases, the death rate and hospitalizations continue under control. The government says that around 65% of the population is fully vaccinated and this apparently is containing the spread of the virus now that new variants are in circulation.

Decree 622-21 removed the curfew. Yet the Ministry of Public Health issued Resolution #048 that mandates vaccines for those older than 12 years and maintains a ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages from 12 midnight to 5am nationwide. This has been relaxed for the Christmas holidays until 6 January 2022.

Ministry of Public Health permits continue to be required for events where people agglomerate and public places and private places for public use are limited to 75% of capacity.

The general vaccination drive is open to persons 12+ years old since Saturday, 12 June 2021 with the arrival of Pfizer vaccines to select vaccination centers. As of 2 July 2021, a third Pfizer booster shot has been available for adults.

By global standards, the Dominican Republic has been relatively successful at treating Covid-19 and keeping the number of deaths low. For the 26 December 2021 deadline, Worldometer lists the 1M deaths per inhabitant rate for the Dominican Republic at 385. According to the same 1M deaths statistics, fewer people have died of Covid-19 in the Dominican Republic than in Brazil at 2,879, Argentina at 2,555, Colombia at 2,511, the United States at 2,510, Italy at 2,267, the United Kingdom at 2,163, Russia at 2,090, Spain at 1,903, France at 1,873, Germany 1,322 and Canada at 788, all major markets for Dominican tourism and countries with overall better health systems.

No Covid-related deaths are recorded for the 26 December 2021 deadline. No deaths are reported having occurred in the previous 24 hours of the deadline. As of the 26 December 2021 deadline, 4,238 persons are reported to have died of the disease in the Dominican Republic, a nation of more than 10.8 million adults since March 2020. The fatality rate has been dropping and now is at 1.02%. The fatality rate per 1M inhabitants is 405.61. Dominican physicians’ diverse treatment for the disease has been relatively successful in the region. The Ministry of Public Health reports that the country’s 405.61 fatality rate per 1M compares favorably to the average 1M inhabitants’ fatality rate for the Americas at 2,306.05 as of 26 December 2021.

The Ministry of Public Health report #648 indicates 11% of Covid-19 hospital beds are occupied (255 of 2,261 total available), down from the previous day. 12% of the intensive care units for Covid-19 are taken (71 of 585), down from the day before. The hospitalization statistics are for all the country. Hospitalization demand in Greater Santo Domingo, Santiago and other major cities is much higher than the national average. The hospitals say that most of the patients that require hospitalization had not been vaccinated for Covid-19.

The past seven days bulletin result highlights are:

Bulletin #648: 414,704 confirmed cases, 478 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 2,928 active cases. No death is reported for the deadline, and no deaths happened in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 405.61.

Bulletin #647: 414,226 confirmed cases, 339 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 2,758 active cases. One death is reported for the deadline, and no deaths happened in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 405.61.

Bulletin #646: 413,887 confirmed cases, 696 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 2,400 active cases. Three deaths are reported for the deadline, and no deaths happened in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 405.51.

Bulletin #645: 413,191 confirmed cases, 506 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 1,942 active cases. Six deaths are reported for the deadline, and one death happened in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 405.23.

Bulletin #644: 412,685 confirmed cases, 422 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 1,765 active cases. Five deaths are reported for the deadline, and no deaths happened in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 404.65.

Bulletin #643: 412,263 confirmed cases, 241 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 1,527 active cases. No deaths are reported for the deadline, and no deaths happened in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 404.17.

Bulletin #642: 412,022 confirmed cases, 139 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 1,290 active cases. No deaths are reported for the deadline, and no deaths happened in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 404.17.

For the 26 December deadline, there were more than 10 cases reported in five of the 31 Dominican provinces and in the National District. There were 305 cases in the National District, 55 in Santo Domingo province, 41 in Santiago, 18 in San Cristóbal, and 12 in La Romana.

Greater Santo Domingo continues to lead in the number of reported PCR cases. As of 26 December 2021 at 6pm, the deadline for Bulletin #648, the most confirmed cases have been reported in the National District (106,860) and the Santo Domingo province (87,841) that represents Greater Santo Domingo, with the country’s highest urban density. The numbers account for 50% of the 414,704 confirmed cases nationwide.

Other province case totals are: Santiago (44,091), La Romana (14,576), La Altagracia (14,532), La Vega (14,252), San Cristóbal (13,995), Puerto Plata (12,130), Duarte (9,415), Espaillat (9,145), San Pedro de Macoris (7,026), San Juan de la Maguana (6,550), Valverde (6,309), Maria Trinidad Sánchez (5,355), Barahona (5,260), Azua (5,073), Monseñor Nouel (4,627), Sánchez Ramírez (4,547), Peravia (4,153), Hermanas Mirabal (3,893), Dajabón (2,966), Montecristi (2,932), Santiago Rodriguez (2,831), Monte Plata (2,734), Hato Mayor (2,260), Baoruco (2,126), San José de Ocoa (1,689), Independencia (1,608), El Seibo (1,535), Samaná (1,454), Pedernales (1,434) and Elías Piña (720) as of the 26 December 2021 deadline.

Public schools reopened for in-person learning on 20 September 2021. Many private schools opened for in-person learning before 1 September 2021. Schools continue to be subject to health protocols. Universities reopened for classes in August but from day one have required students and teachers to have the full vaccination dose. On 8 November 2021, the Health Cabinet approved vaccinating school children ages 5 to 11 years old. Sinovac vaccines will be used in a first phase. Children 12+ have been vaccinated with Pfizer vaccines. The start date of this campaign is yet to be announced. Positivity in public schools is 1.58% with only 844 cases registered as of mid-December.

The government seeks to vaccinate 7.8 million adults of the population of 10.8 million. The 7.8 million does not take into consideration those 12-18 years of age that of June 2021 are included in the vaccination campaign with the regular arrival of batches of Pfizer vaccines. The Ministry of Public Health has mandated three vaccines for all over 18 years of age, in the issuing of Resolution #69. A fourth vaccine is mandated for those 60 years of age or more and with situations of vulnerability.

Regarding Covid-19 testing in the Dominican Republic, private labs have special facilities for those requiring results in time for travel abroad. Results of PCR tests can be had in 24 hours for those presenting a valid airline ticket at labs carried out the test in Santo Domingo, Santiago, Puerto Plata, La Romana and Punta Cana. Antigen tests results can be had in three hours at select labs in the same locations. Nevertheless, travelers are recommended to make arrangements with extra time. PCR test results are usually given in 24 hours or less online.

New outbreaks of the virus in Europe, Asia and Africa are affecting the flexibility of foreign travel to the Dominican Republic. The Ministry of Tourism is hopeful this winter season will set new records. Nevertheless, the start of the spread of the Omicrom variant is expected to impact winter seasonal travel.

The United States is now requiring travelers present a negative test (PCR or antigen) taken within the 24 hours of the travel date. The US is requiring arrivals present proof of having received two Covid-19 accepted vaccines for entry. Airlines are not boarding unvaccinated passengers.

So far, Canada and Spain have been requiring all entering to show negative results of a PCR test carried out within 72 hours before the traveler’s scheduled departure to those countries. Yet, Spain has announced that travelers who have the two doses of the Sinovac or Pfizer vaccine at least two weeks before the travel date can enter without a PCR test. Both vaccines are now available in the Dominican Republic. Around 70% of those vaccinated in the Dominican Republic have received the Sinovac/Coronavac vaccine.

Travelers are now required to upload an e-ticket that contains vaccination information for travel to and from the Dominican Republic.

Open-air public spaces, such as parks and boulevards, can be used for activities other than social gatherings and always complying with preventive health protocols. Gyms, restaurants and bars are allowed to operate at 75% of their capacity. Theaters have resumed showings under health protocols.

Hotels and resorts have operated throughout the pandemic under previously established less restrictive health protocols. In July 2021, the Ministry of Tourism authorized again booking up to 100% of room capacity. Booster shots have been made available to all hotel personnel as an extra step to ensure the safety of guests and staff alike.

The government began to vaccinate for the Covid-19 virus on 16 February 2021. As of 3 September 2021, the Dominican Republic had received 21,737,730 vaccine doses, of which around 72.77% have come from China – 15,768,000 Sinovac and 50,000 Sinopharm vaccines (15,818,000). Pfizer has delivered 5,530,530 vaccine doses for 20.84%. Of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the delivered 1,389,200 doses represent 6.39% of the total.

The last reported arrivals of vaccines was on 3 September 2021, when the Health Cabinet announced the arrival of a shipment of 180,180 Pfizer vaccines. The government has a surplus of vaccines. The Health Cabinet has not shared updates on new arrivals of vaccine stock. President Luis Abinader announced on 22 September 2021 speaking at the UN General Assembly that the Dominican Republic had donated 802,000 vaccines to neighboring countries. The Dominican Republic has also donated vaccines to Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica. The Abinader administration donated 101,000 doses to Honduras and 304,000 doses to Guatemala to boost their vaccination campaigns. 50,000 AstraZeneca vaccines were donated to Jamaica on 6 November 2021.

Free vaccines are available at more than 1,300 vaccination centers nationwide. The Pfizer vaccine is available at major vaccination sites. The Pfizer vaccine is also available as a booster shot for those who have received the two Sinovac or AstraZeneca vaccines and at demand for those who prefer this vaccine. It is also available for those who need the vaccine for travel purposes.

The Ministry of Public Health continues to mandate keeping to the preventive measures of mask-wearing, physical distancing in public spaces, hand hygiene and keeping to well-ventilated areas. In the cities, mask-wearing is the norm and is mandatory. As of recent weeks, mask usage has been relaxed in public areas. People are gathering in restaurants and bars without masks, and discos and theaters are again open. Shopping malls and major stores continue to require the use of the facial masks. Those attending sports and theater performances need to keep their masks on during the events.

Haiti is reported having 25,950 confirmed cases and 765 deaths, as per the 25 December 2021 global epidemiological deadline. Haiti progressed very slowly with its Covid-19 vaccination program. Early on, the Haitian government rejected a first Covax facility donation of AstraZeneca vaccines. A donation of Moderna vaccines was shipped to Haiti for the start of the vaccination program. As of 17 December 2021, 122,239 Haitians (1.05% of the population) had received at least a first dose of the Spikevax (Moderna) vaccine at the 149 open vaccination centers since the start of vaccination on 16 July 2021. Haiti rejected a donation of 100,000 AstraZeneca vaccines from the Dominican Republic. Only 72,102 people are fully vaccinated (2 doses) in Haiti as of the 17 December 2021 data update, of a population of more than 11.4 million people.

The Dominican government has authorized the vaccinating of Haitians with IDs and domicile in the Dominican Republic, but there is much resistance even among those living in the DR to get vaccinated.

Overall, health experts attribute the general low number of deaths in Haiti 66 per 1M pop compared to 385 per 1M in the DR) as of 26 December 2021 in part due to widespread vaccinating of babies with the tuberculosis vaccine and widespread use of ivermectin for parasites that have raised the immunity of the population in general. In-person education has continued regularly in Haiti, and most people do not wear masks nor exercise physical distancing.

In the Americas, the Dominican Republic is ranked 17th in confirmed cases after the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay and Venezuela.

See the Ministry of Public Health epidemiological


Resolution #69

John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
University of Washington Health Data
University of Oxford Covid Tracker
Our World in Data

28 December 2021