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Dominican fears for hard-hit homeland

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The healthcare system in the Dominican Republic is ill-equipped to handle the Covid-19 pandemic, a Dominican woman living in Bermuda said yesterday.

Heidi Eridania, originally from Puerto Plata, said healthcare in the country was “terrible, sadly terrible”.

She added: “If you get sick back home and don't have money, you're in trouble.”

The Dominican Republic, with a population of more than ten million people, has been the hardest-hit by Covid-19 of the 29 countries in the Caribbean region. The country, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, has suffered 235 deaths and has had 4,964 reported cases of the disease.

Ms Eridania, a mother of two, said she paid for medical supplies when her late mother had a 17-day hospital stay after she had a stroke 11 years ago.

She added: “I had to buy all the medical supplies at the hospital for them to take care of my mom in 2009. Can you imagine now, with so many people sick at the same time?”

Ms Eridania said that medical staff taking care of patients with Covid-19 did not have proper clothing, masks and other supplies and were falling ill as a result.

She added: “Doctors and nurses are being exposed to Covid-19 because the Government has not given them what they need to work and take care of themselves.”

Ms Eridania said that the Dominican authorities often gave conflicting messages and that had led to confusion.

She added: “The Minister of Health says something, and here comes the president to say something else so different. People don't know which order to follow. The police, the Minister of Health and the president don't agree what to say.”

A curfew from 5pm until 6am is enforced across the country.

Ms Eridania said: “Most businesses are still open, people are still going around.

“From 6am to 5pm, a whole bunch of people are out, going to supermarkets, to the bank — and not using social-distancing.”

She added: “The police go out at 5pm, find a whole bunch of people out of the house and put 25 or 30 people at one time in a truck and that's not helping either. Police are supposed to be there so it does not spread so much, but the way they are doing that is not helping to prevent.”

Ms Eridania, who moved to Bermuda in 2013, said she was in regular touch with her two brothers and sister in the Dominican Republic, as well as with her large extended family, and monitored the news from home and the social media reaction to it.

She added that some Dominicans feared the crisis was worse than official sources suggested.

Ms Eridania said: “People complain, saying ‘it's not true, there are more, it's not true'. All I see from people's comments are ‘they're lying'.”

She said her homeland could learn from the “organised” approach to the coronavirus virus by the Bermuda Government, including its approach to grocery shopping.

Mr Eridania added: “There are not so many people — ten million living there and 60,000 or 70,000 here. It's harder to control ten million people than this amount, but they can do a little better.

She said: “I'm glad I'm here — this is home, but I still feel for them. More than sad, I get irritated because of what is going on.

“I am something between sad and irritated, because of how they are managing things, the communication between people in charge.

“People are not listening, but people aren't communicating either. It goes both ways.”

The Dominican Republic reported its first Covid-19 death on March 16 and the Government declared a state of emergency the next day.

A nationwide curfew from 8pm to 6am was announced on March 20 and the curfew hours were increased about a week later.

Other Caribbean countries have also been hit by Covid-19.

Puerto Rico has recorded 1,252 cases and 63 deaths, Cuba has had 1,035 cases and 34 deaths, Martinique has recorded 163 cases and 12 deaths and Sint Maarten has suffered 67 cases and ten deaths.

In the English-speaking Caribbean, The Bahamas has recorded nine deaths, Trinidad & Tobago has suffered eight deaths and Jamaica and Barbados have recorded five deaths each.

Among the British Overseas Territories, Anguilla and Montserrat have had no deaths and the British Virgin Islands, Cayman and Turks & Caicos have recorded one each.

Bermuda, in comparison, has had five deaths and 86 cases.

Concern for her homeland: Heidi Eridania, originally from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, said healthcare in the country is “terrible, sadly terrible”. The country of more than ten million people is the hardest-hit among the 29 countries in the Caribbean region, with 4,964 reported cases of Covid-19, and 235 deaths because of the virus

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Published April 21, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 21, 2020 at 8:02 am)

Dominican fears for hard-hit homeland

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