From 34 to 72: Dominican Republic declares state of emergency as COVID-19 cases double

President of the Dominican Republic Danilo Medina (Photo: DominicanToday.com)

Thursday’s (March 19) declaration of a state of emergency in the Dominican Republic may have come too late as confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus more than doubled on Friday (March 20)—jumping to 72 infections.

The island nation, which shares its borders with Haiti, reported no cases 24-hours prior and had a total of 34 confirmed cases on Wednesday (March 18).

All members of the Chamber of Deputies approved provisions submitted by the Executive Branch of government to declare the extraordinary measures as the Spanish Caribbean country struggles to contain the coronavirus.

The Dominican Republic confirmed the region’s first case of COVID-19 on Sunday, March 1; two people have died from disease-related complications over the following days.

The state of emergency, which will be in effect for 25 days, will allow President Danilo Medina to provisionally suppress freedom of transit and adopt other containment measures in the country’s COVID-19 response.

According to local media reports, 15 airlines have asked the Civil Aviation Board (CAA) for special permits to transport thousands of foreigners stranded in the country.

It’s not clear when these flights would take place, however, Dominican Today further noted that airlines that “requested the special permits to operate shuttle flights will depart from Las Americas International Airport (AILA)and Gregorio Luperón International Airport, in Puerto Plata”.

On Wednesday, President Medina announced that the Dominican Republic would close its land, sea and air borders for 15 days, effective 6:00 am Thursday.

The only exception to the sweeping measure allowed for the departure of foreign citizens who want to return to their countries of origin, and the arrival of planes, cargo ships, and fuel ships to “guarantee supplies to the population,” Medina said.

As at 4:54 pm Jamaica time, the Caribbean’s confirmed tally has jumped to 258 cases of the novel coronavirus.