The virus has been slow to hit the country. But as laid-off Haitians return from hard-hit areas, doctors are preparing furiously for an outbreak they fear will strain the nation’s threadbare health care system.
The man stood in line, shaking with fever, one of countless others trying to cross the border and return to Haiti.
A doctor screening them for coronavirus infection pulled him aside. Like thousands of Haitians, he had been laid off in the Dominican Republic, which has been hit hard by Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Now he and the other Haitians were returning home, threatening to bring the virus with them.
The coronavirus has been slow to come to Haiti, partly because protests and political violence virtually shut down tourism and drove away the foreigners who could have brought the disease to the country.
A month after the first case was announced, there have been only 58 confirmed cases and four deaths. Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe last week congratulated the country and announced that factories would reopen at reduced capacity, a rare bit of encouragement for a nation that has been lashed by tragedy — with a deadly hurricane, a cholera outbreak and a horrific earthquake in just the past decade.