The Ministry of Public Health Coronavirus Bulletin #622 with the deadline of 30 November 2021 reports 223 new cases, a record low only comparable to the very start of the pandemic in March 2020. The low in Covid-19 cases in the Dominican Republic coincides with the outbreak of the Omicrom variant in Europe and Africa.
Bulletin #622 reports active Covid-19 cases are at 2,614. 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 64% of the population vaccinated with least two doses of vaccine, and 77% with at least one dose, the fourth wave outbreak was mild and has dissipated.
The Ministry of Public Health says the Delta variant was the predominant strain during the fourth wave. Of 132 samples taken from 7-20 October 2021, 125 when sequenced in US and Brazilian labs proved to be of the Delta variant, 2 of the Gama variant, and 4 of the Mu variant.
The most 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 30 November 2021 Epidemiological Bulletin #622 is at 7.13%, down from the previous day. The 24-hour positivity for the day is 3.84%, up from the previous day.
Only four provinces remain with a positivity rate over 10%, also reflecting the downward trend in cases. The positivity rates, have been dropping gradually in most provinces. The positivity rates over 10% in descending order are: Santiago Rodríguez 12.94%, Dajabón 11.83%, San José de Ocoa 10.35% and Azua 10.26%.
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. For the 30 November deadline, Our World in Data reports a low 12,695 first and second dose vaccines were applied. The record vaccinations for one day is 184,208 on 10 June 2021. The rolling 7-day average as of 30 November 2021 deadline is now at 13,491 vaccines applied per day.
The VacunateRD government website reports injecting 6,875,984 first doses of the vaccine and 5,601,216 second doses for the 30 November 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 30 November 2021 deadline, the Ministry of Public Health had reported that 1,339,737 people had received the Pfizer third booster shot, mostly people older than 50 years, but the vaccine is also available on demand for other age groups.
The booster shot is also available for Dominicans living abroad that may come and get the Pfizer shot here and it will be added to their US vaccination card, for example.
64% 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. 77% 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 223 new cases for bulletin #622 compare to the 7-day nationwide average for confirmed cases that is 388, down 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. There is no report yet of the entry of the new Omicron variant. The Omicron variant is reported in California, United States. It is then just a matter of time before it arrives to the DR, given the large number of travelers from that country.
The number of cases of Covid-19 has been significantly dropping despite the elimination of the curfew nationwide and the current winter baseball professional championship, Black Friday shopping and family and friends mingling for Christmas. 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 routinely wear masks in stores.
As per Bulletin #622, with the deadline of 30 November 2021, the Ministry of Public Health has registered 407,474 confirmed cases since the first case on 1 March 2020. Labs carried out 5,800 first-time tests. This number of tests compares with the 14-day average now at 7,877, down from the previous day. The increase in testing also reflects the demand for testing now that influenza season is here and more people are getting tested to discard Covid-19.
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 young people are driving the spread of the disease.
The Ministry of Public Health is closely monitoring the situation now that circulation restrictions that were part of the National State of Emergency were removed on 11 October 2021.
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 64% 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.
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 regional standards, the Dominican Republic has been relatively successful at treating Covid-19 and keeping the number of deaths low. For the 30 November 2021 deadline, Worldometer lists the 1M deaths per inhabitant rate for the Dominican Republic at 383. According to the same 1M deaths statistics, fewer people have died of Covid-19 in the Dominican Republic than in Brazil at 2,863, Argentina at 2,547, Colombia at 2,489, the United States at 2,408, Italy at 2,220, the United Kingdom at 2,122, Russia at 1,893, Spain at 1,883, France at 1,819, Germany 1,218 and Canada at 777, all major markets for Dominican tourism and countries with overall better health systems.
Six Covid-related deaths are recorded for the 30 November 2021 deadline. Two deaths are reported having occurred in the previous 24 hours of the deadline. As of the 30 November 2021 deadline, 4,210 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 1.03%. The fatality rate per 1M inhabitants is 402.93. Dominican physicians’ diverse treatment for the disease has been relatively successful in the region. The Ministry of Public Health reports that the country’s 402.93 fatality rate per 1M compares favorably to the average 1M inhabitants’ fatality rate for the Americas at 2,261.44 as of 29 November 2021.
The Ministry of Public Health report #622 indicates 17% of Covid-19 hospital beds are occupied (379 of 2,261 total available), down from the previous day. 31% of the intensive care units for Covid-19 are taken (179 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 #622: 407,474 confirmed cases, 223 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 2,614 active cases, six deaths are reported for the deadline, and two deaths happened in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 402.93.
Bulletin #621: 407,251 confirmed cases, 138 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 3,151 active cases, zero deaths are reported for the deadline, and no deaths happened in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 402.35.
Bulletin #620: 407,113 confirmed cases, 310 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 3,446 active cases, zero deaths are reported for the deadline, and no deaths happened in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 402.35.
Bulletin #619: 406,803 confirmed cases, 292 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 3,161 active cases, zero deaths are reported for the deadline, and no deaths happened in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 402.35.
Bulletin #618: 406,511 confirmed cases, 490 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 3,581 active cases, two deaths are reported for the deadline, and one death happened in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 402.16.
Bulletin #617: 406,021 confirmed cases, 508 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 3,946 active cases, five deaths are reported for the deadline, and two deaths happened in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 402.16.
Bulletin #616: 405,513 confirmed cases, 759 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 4,333 active cases, two deaths are reported for the deadline, and one death happened in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 401.68.
For the 30 November deadline, there were more than 10 cases reported in 2 of the 31 Dominican provinces and in the National District. There were 93 in Santo Domingo province, 39 in the National District and 13 in La Vega.
Greater Santo Domingo continues to lead in the number of reported PCR cases. As of 30 November 2021 at 6pm, the deadline for Bulletin #622, the most confirmed cases have been reported in the National District (104,566) and the Santo Domingo province (86,520) that represents Greater Santo Domingo, with the country’s highest urban density. The numbers account for 50% of the 407,474 confirmed cases nationwide.
Other province case totals are: Santiago (42,985), La Romana (14,484), La Altagracia (14,378), La Vega (14,097), San Cristóbal (13,777), Puerto Plata (11,954), Duarte (9,296), Espaillat (8,912), San Pedro de Macoris (6,927), San Juan de la Maguana (6,499), Valverde (6,142), Maria Trinidad Sánchez (5,232), Barahona (5,199), Azua (5,026), Monseñor Nouel (4,576), Sánchez Ramírez (4,470), Peravia (4,118), Hermanas Mirabal (3,835), Montecristi (2,903), Dajabón (2,899), Santiago Rodriguez (2,779), Monte Plata (2,694), Hato Mayor (2,190), Baoruco (2,094), San José de Ocoa (1,661), Independencia (1,594), El Seibo (1,530), Samaná (1,433), Pedernales (1,432) and Elías Piña (705) as of the 30 November 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.
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.
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 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.
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. The US requires travelers to show proof of two doses of Covid-19 vaccination and negative antigen or PCR test results taken within 72 hours of the arrival to US territory.
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 25,175 confirmed cases and 738 deaths, as per the 30 November 2021 global epidemiological deadline. Haiti has only just begun to start its Covid-19 vaccination program. This was because the Haitian government rejected a first Covax facility donation of AstraZeneca vaccines. The Dominican government authorized the vaccinating of Haitians with domicile in the Dominican Republic. A donation of Moderna vaccines was shipped to Haiti for the start of the vaccination program. As of 20 November 2021, 153,182 doses of Spikevax (Moderna) vaccines had been applied in Haiti 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 39,676 people are fully vaccinated (2 doses) in Haiti as of the 31 October 2021 data update.
Overall, health experts attribute the general low number of deaths in Haiti 64 per 1M pop compared to 383 per 1M in the DR) as of 30 November 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 now 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.
2 December 2021