Haiti’s Supreme Court President dies after being hospitalized for COVID-19

President of Haiti’s highest court, René Sylvestre, died on Wednesday (June 23) after a short battle with COVID-19.

Haitian President Jovenel Moïse confirmed Sylvestre’s passing on Twitter, where he shared condolences for the Supreme Court judge’s family and members of the judiciary.

The 58-year-old died at University of Mirebalais Hospital, where he had been receiving treatment since last week.

Sylvestre’s passing is a devastating blow to the judiciary, which Haitian Bar Federation President, Jacques Letang, said is already in a state of crisis.

The COVID situation in Haiti

According to the official data from the country’s health ministry, Haiti recorded 2,271 new infection and 62 deaths in May 2021.

Overall the country, which has a population of more than 11 million, has reported 15,700 cases of the virus and about 330 deaths since the start of the pandemic last year.

Some experts in the international community claim the numbers may not be accurate, due to a lack of testing capabilities and the lack of coronavirus treatment centers in many parts of the country.

To date, Haiti hasn’t received a single vaccine dose,  though it is anticipated that the island will get 130,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in June.

In May, the United Nations’ COVAX  facility was to make 756,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine available to the island but the shipment was delayed due to the government’s concern over possible clotting, as a side effect, and a lack of infrastructure to keep the vaccines properly refrigerated.