Coronavirus is reaping significant havoc on Central America and the Caribbean. Ministries of Health there constantly struggle to keep up with demand, with little capacity to prepare for the current global pandemic. As governments throughout the Western Hemisphere sheltered in place, Nicaragua chose to forge ahead without social distancing. The message from Ortega was clear “Nicaragua cannot afford to close.” And in many ways, he is correct. The majority of Nicaraguans depend on the informal economy to survive, and the credit sector had already collapsed following two years of social unrest and sanctions. Nicaraguans found themselves between a rock and a hard place; having to choose between staying home without income or risking infection to provide for the family. 

Nurse Enma attending Together For Health patients in May

The Nicaraguan government reports about 1100 cases and 46 deaths as of June 9. The Citizen Observatory, a third-party watchdog agency, estimates there are over 3700 cases and 800 deaths as of June 6. Many hospitals and clinics are over capacity while the country has yet to each its peak of the curve. Even more concerning is the prevalence of infection in frontline medical workers. The new doctor of the Los Robles clinic tested positive after his first day in the community, and a nurse from the next closest clinic in Pueblo Nuevo has also tested positive.

We have asked our staff in Nicaragua to shelter in place until further notice. In May, we delivered several months’ worth of medicine, food, and supplies to the families participating in our health and food security programs and maintain constant communication with them via telephone. We also expanded our Food For Good program to include eight acres of corn, with beans and squash to follow.

 

Future field of corn

The Dominican Republic has recently relaxed its executive orders for shelter in place and curfew. With 1000+ deaths and 16,000+ cases, the DR leads the Caribbean region by far. For a country whose economy relies heavily on tourism, coronavirus has been devastating. The Ministry of Tourism hopes to open again by the end of June. In the meantime, our community partner, Health Horizons International, has been responding to the emerging needs of the Montellano municipality throughout the crisis. We are proud of our partnership and look forward to returning to work with them in the future. Learn more of their inspiring work here.

 Disinfection stations with touchless water valves in the Dominican Republic

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