CAP-HAITIEN, HAITI – Haiti has one of the lowest death rates from COVID-19 in the world, and scientists are mystified about why.
Most people have given up on masks, or don’t believe the virus is real.
Large crowds, dancing and music on a warm Friday night in Cap-Haitien.
Locals call the city O-Cap, one of the country’s largest and most attractive for young adults.
People still greet each other by shaking hands, with no social distancing. Restaurants don’t require facial coverings.
It’s a world that we in the United States knew before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Weeks into the initial spread of the virus, Haitian President Jovenel Moise said, “Some decisions we made early. We decided to completely shut down the country for four months.”
But scientists say even that doesn’t explain Haiti’s stunningly low COVID-19 death rates.
There have been 260 deaths and 13,149 infections out of the approximately 11 million people in Haiti, according to the latest data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
That’s for the entire pandemic.
By now, the worst predictions had Haiti in a second wave, like India, which is in the grips of a COVID-19 crisis that’s killing a hundred people by the hour, and a weak health care system that is collapsing.
Haiti’s dramatically low Covid count and death rate may be a combination of the government’s poor record keeping, and not enough testing sites.
But Moise said there is a relationship Haitians have with nature that protects them from coronavirus, and a plant that produces certain tea that’s made with ginger root.
The Moise administration missed the first round of nearly a million free AstraZenca vaccinations several months ago, but Moise said even when his country accepts them, he can’t force people to get the shot.
Meanwhile on stops in small towns, the president, who wears a mask, is a magnet for big crowds of people standing side by side, gathering with no protection from COVID-19.
And so if the Haitian proverb is really true, that behind every mountain is another mountain, or behind a problem is another problem, then Haiti may not have been spared after all by the worst of the virus.