On 1st March 2020, the first confirmed case of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Caribbean, a 62-year-old Italian tourist, was reported in the Dominican Republic. Being well over a year now into the pandemic, the situation in the Caribbean has been volatile across the region with the islands relying on their local expertise and international evidence to manage the pandemic.
Some Caribbean countries and territories seem to be weathering the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic better than others although the situation is fluid. In reviewing the islands worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which are well known around the region, how does each country measure up when accounting for population size?
MJS & Associates, a management consulting company in the British Virgin Islands has been presenting figures on the Caribbean region including for members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) since the start of the pandemic. South American country like Guyana, and Central American country, Belize, are a part of CARICOM.
The graph takes into account all 34 countries and territories that are being tracked with population ranging from around two thousand to eleven million. The calculations were made per ten thousand inhabitants.
Using this measure, St. Barthelemy has the most severe rate of 1,103.93 cases per 10,000 population, followed by Aruba at 1,056.83 and Puerto Rico at 867.63. Aruba which has dominated the top ten for several months have managed to contain the disease reporting relatively low new infections since June 2021. Puerto Rico is reporting low 3-digits in new cases per day compared to the 4-digit surge experienced previously.
The other seven islands rounding off the top ten with the worst ranking are Bonaire, Curacao, Saint Martin, Turks and Caicos, Sint Maarten, British Virgin Islands and Guadeloupe. The top ten spots are notably quite diverse with English, Dutch, French and Spanish speaking islands geographically spread across the Caribbean. Puerto Rico is the only Greater Antilles country in the top ten.
Two of the countries which moved expeditiously to manage the threat of the virus from the outset are the British Virgin Islands and Cuba. However, the situation on the ground has changed rapidly for both Cuba and the BVI. Cuba, a Greater Antillean country, has moved from reporting two and three-digits single-day new cases to four digits for the past four months but is currently in 21st place for total positive cases reported per capita.
The British Virgin Islands, with population of about 30,000 inhabitants, which was ranked one of the best in handling the pandemic in the world has now surged from 13 active cases about two weeks ago to over 1,500 active cases as of 14 July 2021. The upsurge in new cases has placed the BVI in the top ten spot for accumulated positive cases at 618.99 per capita.
Greater Antillean country, Dominican Republic, has recorded the most positive COVID-19 cases in the Caribbean, but it has a significant larger population than many other Caribbean countries. The Dominican Republic, which has almost 335 thousand positive cases, is in seventeenth place with 312.60 cases per ten thousand people.
Looking across the region, Curaçao, in the 5th spot on the graph, lifted curfew in June 2021 for the first time in over a year after seeing a positivity rate of 0.15%. However, the island is currently experiencing an uptick in new cases. Curaçao was dropped from the CONCACAF Gold Cup on Friday, 9th July 2021 after several of their team members tested positive for COVID-19.
The situation in the entire Caribbean is quite volatile. Over the last month, countries such as Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and the United States Virgin Islands have had their share of surges.
Grenada has the least severe rate per capita followed by Haiti and Dominica.
Grenada, Saba and Sint Eustatius are the only islands reporting zero active COVID-19 cases on island as of 14th July 2021.
Past and present success stories in pandemic management across the region have been largely attributed to stringent curfews and stay-at-home orders, border closures and travel screening to keep COVID-19 cases at zero or relatively low across much of the Caribbean.
An ultimate goal for Governments across the region is vaccinating as much of their population as possible to fight the coronavirus disease.
As of 14th July, 2021, MJS & Associates has recorded 1,134,607 positive cases for a combined population of 45,150,659 representing 34 countries and territories in the Caribbean region. A total of 816,785 recoveries and 13,419 deaths have been reported in region. Active cases stand at 304,403.
Data provided by MJS & Associates excludes suspected cases. However, the number of actual cases in any country is likely to be higher than the official figures published.
The testing rates can also vary for each country. There are some differences in how the islands report and count the cases which can make a comparison challenging.