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Coronavirus Covid-19 Bulletin #661/ 8 January 2022

The Ministry of Public Health Coronavirus Bulletin #661 with the deadline of 8 January 2022 reports 6,042 new cases, up only slightly over the previous day. The increase would seem to reflect a slowing of the impact of the new-to-country Omicron variant. At the same time, the death rate continues to drop and is now at 0.93%, one of the lowest in the Americas.

Bulletin #661 reports active Covid-19 cases are at 33,146, up significantly 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 8 January 2022 Epidemiological Bulletin #661 is at 22.35%, up from the previous day. Yet, the 24-hour positivity for the day is 34.23%, again down from the previous day. 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 is now above 10% in all provinces and the National District. In the provinces of larger population, the positivity is: National District 25.53%, Santo Domingo province 21.75%, Santiago 20.42%, Puerto Plata 24.98%, La Altagracia 17.22%, Duarte 18.08%, San Cristóbal 23.11%, San Pedro de Macorís 21.78%, La Vega 13.40%, La Romana 22.79% and Espaillat 26.02%.

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 8 January 2022 deadline, Our World in Data reports 14,074 first and second dose vaccines were applied, an increase in vaccinations. The rolling 7-day average as of 8 January 2022 deadline is now at 11,221 vaccines applied per day.

The VacunateRD government website reports injecting 6,953,635 first doses of the vaccine and 5,722,555 second doses for the 8 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 8 January 2022 deadline, the Ministry of Public Health had reported that 1,531,679 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 6,042 new cases for bulletin #661 compare to the 7-day nationwide average for confirmed cases that is 5,039, 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 #661, with the deadline of 8 January 2022, the Ministry of Public Health has registered 457,227 PCR-confirmed cases since the first case on 1 March 2020. Labs carried out 17,650 first-time PCR tests, a record high. This number of tests compares with the 14-day average now at 8,375, 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 8 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 2,563, Colombia at 2,520, the United States at 2,573, Italy at 2,305, the United Kingdom at 2,194, Russia at 2,165, Spain at 1,922, France at 1,914, Germany 1,363 and Canada at 805 all major markets for Dominican tourism and countries with overall better health systems.

No Covid-related deaths is recorded for the 8 January 2022 deadline. No death is reported having occurred in the previous 24 hours of the deadline. As of the 8 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 0.93%. 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 2,334.09 as of 8 January 2022.

The Ministry of Public Health report #661 indicates 29% of Covid-19 hospital beds are occupied (652 of 2,261 total available), up from the previous day. 26% of the intensive care units for Covid-19 are taken (150 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 #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.

Bulletin #656: 428,509 confirmed cases, 3,700 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 14,584 active cases. One death is reported for the deadline, and none in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 406.95.

Bulletin #655: 424,809 confirmed cases, 2,856 new cases reported in the past 24 hours, 10,999 active cases. Two deaths are reported for the deadline, and one in the past 24 hours. The fatality rate per 1M is 406.85.

The 8 January 2022 deadline shows a notable reduction in cases. In seven provinces there were less than 10 cases.  Monseñor Nouel (9), Azua (6), El Seibo (5), Montecristi (4), Sánchez Ramírez (3), Samaná (2) and Pedernales (0).

There were more than 100 cases reported in the National District (1,724), Santo Domingo province (1,378), Espaillat (524), Santiago (368), La Romana (251), Valverde (209), San Pedro de Macorís (169), Peravia (161), La Vega (140) and Baoruco (109).  

Other provinces registered: La Altagracia (97), María Trinidad Sánchez (90), Duarte (84), San Cristóbal (82), San José de Ocoa (72), Independencia (61), Monte Plata (56), Dajabón (52), Barahona and Hermanas Mirabal (51), Hato Mayor (44), Santiago Rodríguez (40), San Juan de la Maguana (26), Elías Piña (10).

Greater Santo Domingo continues to lead in the number of reported PCR cases. As of 8 January 2022 at 6pm, the deadline for Bulletin #661, the most confirmed cases have been reported in the National District (119,809) and the Santo Domingo province (96,280) that represents Greater Santo Domingo, with the country’s highest urban density. The numbers account for 50% of the 457,227 confirmed cases nationwide.

Other province case totals are: Santiago (47,813), La Romana (15,389), La Altagracia (15,710), La Vega (14,930), San Cristóbal (14,969), Puerto Plata (13,792), Duarte (10,302), Espaillat (9,685), San Pedro de Macoris (7,642), San Juan de la Maguana (6,985), Valverde (7,632), Maria Trinidad Sánchez (6,007), Barahona (5,503), Azua (5,303), Monseñor Nouel (4,835), Sánchez Ramírez (4,934), Peravia (4,576), Hermanas Mirabal (4,737), Dajabón (3,631), Montecristi (3,348), Santiago Rodriguez (3,208), Monte Plata (3,071), Baoruco (2,964), Hato Mayor (2,755), San José de Ocoa (1,898), Independencia (1,907), El Seibo (1,609), Samaná (1,534), Pedernales (1,451) and Elías Piña (762) as of the 8 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.

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 foreign arrivals present proof of having received two Covid-19 accepted vaccines for entry. Depending on the destination, airlines may not board unvaccinated passengers.

Country entry requirements are constantly changing and passengers should check before traveling. 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.

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 readily available and is the booster shot used for those who have received the two Sinovac or AstraZeneca vaccines. 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 26,304 confirmed cases and 774 deaths, as per the 8 January 2022 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 25 December 2021, 122,595 Haitians (1.06% 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. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians that live and work in the Dominican Republic have been vaccinated here.

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 67 per 1M pop compared to 386 per 1M in the DR) as of 8 January 2022 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
Bulletins

VacunateRD

Resolution #69

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

8 January 2022