A group of over 100 Haitian nationals are set to be deported from the United States by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), on Monday, May 11. This is scheduled to happen despite requests from the Haitian government to wait until the spread of COVID-19 subsides. Among those being deported, at least five individuals are known to have tested positive for COVID-19 very recently.
The Haitian government panel assigned to direct the nation’s pandemic response requested that the US government avoid deportations until the pandemic is contained. The presidential panel consisting of medical professionals and public health experts, wrote to ICE stating that “(t)ransporting people potentially infected with SARS COV2 in an aircraft represents a high risk of contamination for all passengers including the crew. Persons coming from these territories must be placed in quarantine and tested for COVID-19.”
Emphasizing on the stress it will add on Haiti’s already strained public health system, the letter added that such deportation “results in the use of human and material resources already limited in Haiti, especially in the health emergency context.”
WHO and other global health organizations and public health experts have consistently warned against international travel or deportations during the pandemic. The US government does not seem to be heeding such advice. Previously, the government of Guatemala had condemned the US for sending back COVID-19 infected patients without informing them, after over 100 of these deportees were found infected.