Coronavirus Covid-19 Bulletin #663/ 10 January 2022

The Ministry of Public Health Coronavirus Bulletin #663 with the deadline of 10 January 2022 reports 6,683 new cases, up from the previous day. The increase accumulates cases over the long weekend. At the same time, the death rate continues to drop and is now at 0.91%, one of the lowest in the Americas.

Bulletin #663 reports active Covid-19 cases are at 36,750, up from the previous day, and a new high from the days of the third wave in 18 July 2021 (Bulletin #493). The number of active cases is still well below the peak of 55,773 active cases registered for the 5th of July 2021. 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 Delta wave was unusually short and dissipated. This was attributed to the widespread vaccination with two Sinovac and the booster shot with Pfizer, according to a recent University of Yale study. The government is offering those who have two Pfizer shots to get the Sinovac or Pfizer shot.

Now the Omicron variant is the dominant strain, bringing the fifth wave. So far, reports are that cases reported in the Dominican Republic have been mostly in persons without symptoms or with symptoms of a mild cold. Influenza is also circulating at the same time.

The statistics do not reflect the likely larger number of cases given that in the Dominican Republic free tests are only available at specific hospital and university sites and most people with mild symptoms will not bother to get tested because of the cost and long queues.

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 daily positivity rate has been increasing significantly. The national 4-week positivity rate for the 10 January 2022 Epidemiological Bulletin #663 is at 24.26%, up slightly from the previous day. Yet, the 24-hour positivity for the day is 35.43%, down from the previous day, despite a record 18,862 PCR tests carried out. The talk of the town over the holidays is Omicron, influenza and the common cold. Those that have not fallen ill, know someone who is down with one of the three.

The positivity rate continues to be above 10% in all provinces and the National District. Nevertheless, it dropped in the National District and most provinces. In the provinces of larger population, the positivity is: Espaillat 27.66%, National District 26.59%, San Cristóbal 23.85%, Puerto Plata 23.19%, Santo Domingo province 22.89%, Santiago 21.93%, La Romana 21.36%, San Pedro de Macorís 20.80%, Duarte 19.92%, La Altagracia 18.06% and La Vega 17.52%.

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 increasing after the government ordered that it is mandatory to have three vaccines (2 AstraZeneca + 1 Pfizer, 2 Sinovac + 1 Pfizer or 2 Pfizer +1 Sinovac) for residents to enter government buildings by 31 January 2022. The record vaccinations for one day is 184,208 on 10 June 2021. For the 10 January 2022 deadline, Our World in Data reports 16,176 first and second dose vaccines were applied, an increase in vaccinations. The rolling 7-day average as of 10 January 2022 deadline is now at 15,169 vaccines applied per day.

The VacunateRD government website reports injecting 6,954,787 first doses of the vaccine and 5,724,174 second doses for the 10 January 2022 report deadline. The government began to vaccinate for the Covid-19 virus on 16 February 2021.

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 or the AstraZeneca vaccine. The Pfizer booster vaccine is mandatory as of 31 January 2022 for the entry to government offices and many private spaces.

For the 10 January 2022 deadline, the Ministry of Public Health had reported that 1,538,083 people had received the Pfizer third booster shot, first people older than 50 years, but the vaccine is now recommended for all age groups. The government has ordered all with the first two shots to get the booster shot, especially with the entry of the new Omicron variant. The government issued Resolution #69 that mandates that the booster shot (third vaccine of a kind different from the first two) is obligatory for entry to many public spaces as of 31 January 2022. The fourth vaccine shot is also now available for seniors (60+), front line workers and those with health vulnerabilities.

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 Ministry of Public Health reports in its 30 December 2021 positivity bulletin that La Altagracia (Punta Cana) leads in population that has received two doses, with 102.4%. Next follow the National District 94.4%, Pedernales 81.2%, Puerto Plata 74.5%, Espaillat (Moca) 72.7%, San Pedro de Macorís 71.4% and La Romana 70.4%, with percentages at or above the targeted 70%+.

The percentages for second dose in other provinces are: Independencia 64.8%, Sánchez Ramírez 64.6%, Dajabón 63.8%, Bahoruco 63.3%, Monte Plata 63.2%, Barahona 62.5%, San Jose de Ocoa 61.5%, Hato Mayor 60.9%, Valverde, 60.0%, El Seibo 59.9%, Santiago 59.7%, Santiago Rodríguez 59.5%, Montecristi (59.4%), Samaná 59.4%, Peravia 59.2%, Azua 58.5%, Santo Domingo 58.1%, La Vega 57.8%, Elías Piña 57.5%, Hermanas Mirabal 57.5%, San Cristóbal 57.2%, San Juan 56.5%, María Trinidad Sánchez 56.4%, Monseñor Nouel 56.3%, and Duarte 56.0%. The national average with two doses is 65.6%. 78.1% of the population has at least one dose, and 18.4% has three doses.

The vaccinations have spared the population a major spike in Covid-19 cases even with the entry of more aggressive variants. The Presidency on 11 October 2021 removed curfew restrictions nationwide and the new measures seek to motivate those that have not been vaccinated to get with it. The government has said it is betting on the vaccines to not have to impose curfew restrictions.

As of 18 October 2021, the government is requiring physical or digital proof that people be fully vaccinated (two doses) for entering government offices, public transport and schools. As of 31 January 2021, this measure is extended to the include a third booster shot.

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 6,683 new cases for bulletin #663 compare to the 7-day nationwide average for confirmed cases that is 5,794, up from the previous day. Removal of curfew and circulation restrictions have brought people together and served to spread Covid.

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 over the holidays. There is concern the larger number of Dominicans visiting for the holidays also contributed to the increase the number of cases in circulation. Compliance of masking is waning, yet people still routinely wear masks in stores.

As per Bulletin #663, with the deadline of 10 January 2022, the Ministry of Public Health has registered 468,060 PCR-confirmed cases since the first case on 1 March 2020. Labs carried out 18,862 first-time PCR tests. This number of tests compares with the 14-day average now at 10,252, 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.

By global standards, the Dominican Republic has been relatively successful at treating Covid-19 and keeping the number of deaths low. For the 10 January 2022 deadline, Worldometer lists the 1M deaths per inhabitant rate for the Dominican Republic at 386. According to the same 1M deaths statistics, fewer people have died of Covid-19 in the Dominican Republic than in Brazil at 2,886, Argentina at 2,565, Colombia at 2,522, the United States at 2,579, Italy at 2,309, the United Kingdom at 2,195, Russia at 2,175, Spain at 1,927, France at 1,920, Germany 1,366 and Canada at 807 all major markets for Dominican tourism and countries with overall better health systems.

No Covid-related deaths is recorded for the 10 January 2022 deadline. No death is reported having occurred in the previous 24 hours of the deadline. As of the 10 January 2022 deadline, 4,255 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 0.91%. The fatality rate per 1M inhabitants is 407.24. Dominican physicians’ diverse treatment for the disease has been relatively successful in the region. The Ministry of Public Health reports that the country’s 407.24 fatality rate per 1M compares favorably to the average 1M inhabitants’ fatality rate for the Americas at 2,340.09 as of 10 January 2022.

The Ministry of Public Health report #663 indicates 30% of Covid-19 hospital beds are occupied (672 of 2,261 total available), up from the previous day. 27% of the intensive care units for Covid-19 are taken (160 of 585), same as 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 #663: 469,065 confirmed cases, 6,683 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 36,750 active cases. No death is reported for the deadline, and none in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 407.24.

Bulletin #662: 462,382 confirmed cases, 5,155 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 33,439 active cases. No death is reported for the deadline, and none in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 407.24.

Bulletin #661: 457,227 confirmed cases, 6,042 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 33,146 active cases. No death is reported for the deadline, and none in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 407.24.

Bulletin #660: 451,185 confirmed cases, 6,200 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 31,482 active cases. Two deaths are reported for the deadline, and none in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 407.24.

Bulletin #659: 444,985 confirmed cases, 5,968 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 29,079 active cases. No death is reported for the deadline, and none in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 407.04.

Bulletin #658: 439,017 confirmed cases, 5,307 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 25,190 active cases. No death is reported for the deadline, and none in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 406.95.

Bulletin #657: 433,710 confirmed cases, 5,201 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 19,626 active cases. No death is reported for the deadline, and none in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 406.95.

As per the 10 January deadline, in only three provinces there were less than 10 cases — Elías Piña (5), Pedernales (1) and Peravia (9).   

There were more than 100 cases reported in the National District (1,667), Santo Domingo province (1,449), Santiago (532), Puerto Plata (465), La Vega (296), San Cristóbal (267), Azua (262), Espaillat (199), La Altagracia (159), María Trinidad Sánchez (145), Valverde (142), Monseñor Nouel (125), La Romana (116), Santiago Rodríguez (106), Barahona (101),

Other provinces registered: Duarte (98), San Cristóbal (91), La Romana (84), Peravia (42), Baoruco and El Seibo (39), Hato Mayor (38), Hermanas Mirabal (30), La Altagracia (24), Santiago Rodríguez (23), María Trinidad Sánchez (20), Dajabón 19, Independencia (13) and Barahona (12).

Greater Santo Domingo continues to lead in the number of reported PCR cases. As of 10 January 2022 at 6pm, the deadline for Bulletin #663, the most confirmed cases have been reported in the National District (123,324) and the Santo Domingo province (98,947) that represents Greater Santo Domingo, with the country’s highest urban density. The numbers account for 50% of the 469,065 confirmed cases nationwide.

Other province case totals are: Santiago (48,745), La Romana (15,589), La Altagracia (15,893), La Vega (15,411), San Cristóbal (15,327), Puerto Plata (13,416), Duarte (10,444), Espaillat (11,045), San Pedro de Macoris (7,689), San Juan de la Maguana (7,022), Valverde (7,984), Maria Trinidad Sánchez (6,172), Barahona (5,616), Azua (5,602), Monseñor Nouel (5,163), Sánchez Ramírez (4,948), Peravia (4,627), Hermanas Mirabal (4,834), Dajabón (3,715), Montecristi (3,374), Santiago Rodriguez (3,337), Monte Plata (3,191), Baoruco (3,071), Hato Mayor (2,849), San José de Ocoa (1,925), Independencia (1,973), El Seibo (1,703), Samaná (1,571), Pedernales (1,453) and Elías Piña (771) as of the 10 January 2022 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 2021 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.

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