By Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES – When the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which is responsible for the disease COVID-19), began to take over the world and the WHO declared it a global pandemic, there were plenty of pessimists who predicted that thousands of people would die of COVID and Cuban hospitals would lack the conditions needed to provide a response to a pandemic like this one.
Just over three months have passed since the virus first entered Cuba, with three Italian tourists who were already infected when they arrived. Some Cubans who had been in contact with them, also became infected, and the system that Cuba had already prepared to track the virus was launched into action. Some other tourists, and Cubans who had been abroad, turned out to be also infected upon arrival, and began to infect the locals who served them and the chain of transmission slowly spread across the entire country.
One or two hospitals were set up with intensive care wards in each province, and there were more in the capital, in the case they were needed. Furthermore, isolation centers were also set up to keep people for 14 days, who have been in contact with already confirmed cases of COVID-19, and primary healthcare services monitored people who were linked to these cases.
There was a peak when primary healthcare services were monitoring some 30,000 people across the entire country. Today, this figure stands at less than 100. During this peak, there were a maximum of 847 active cases, that’s to say, positive cases of COVID-19 admitted into hospital. On June 27th, there are only 55 cases in hospitals.
An interesting fact is that out of the 2,325 cases that tested positive for COVID-19, 93.8% have already recovered. Only 86 people have passed away, and the majority of those involved patients who had underlying health conditions, which contributed to their health deteriorating further, thus it was impossible to save their lives. Not a single health worker has died yet, contrasting with the thousands of health professionals who have passed away all over the world.
Cuba has a follow-up protocol for everybody who is sick with COVID-19, given the effects the disease can have on a high number of patients, who have basically expressed their severe and critical condition.
This follow-up procedure begins with the family GP, with the study of patients who are having breathing tests and X-rays done to them, and assessments and referrals to other medical services are made, depending on the effects of the disease on its host.
I can’t leave out the fact that while Cuba is making huge efforts to try and save the lives of the sick, the US government is doing everything it can to make Cuba fail in this endeavor, without the slightest bit of concern of how many people may die at a result.
For example, they blocked a donation of medical equipment from a Chinese businessman, as well as a container with raw materials needed to produce medicine which came to Cuba via boat. It couldn’t be unloaded and was been sent back to its remittance address, because the ship’s captain has received his order and will be sanctioned if he doesn’t abide by the Helms-Burton Act. Has anyone seen a eviler and more murderous attitude, in the middle of such a dangerous pandemic?
Logically, the entire procedure described to fight the pandemic is only possible in countries that have a health system like Cuba’s own, because in the places where healthcare is just another commodity and human lives are less important than reopening the economy, there aren’t even strict controls on the infected and the dead.
However, the feats of Cuban health professionals are not only limited to our island. As soon as the pandemic began to spread across the globe, Cuba began to receive a flood of requests from many countries asking for support from medical brigades belonging to the Henry Reeve contingent, specializing in cases of natural disasters and serious epidemics, having already gained an international reputation, for their actions during events I won’t name here because they are well-known.
Cuba’s response came immediately, and medical brigades began to leave the island to fight the pandemic and they have already worked in over 30 countries, with over 3,500 health professionals providing great results. Even though the US has been recommending that countries don’t receive Cuban medical cooperation efforts, requests continue to come in and Cuba hasn’t left anyone on their own in this fight.
So, one thing remains clear for these ill-intentioned people who are always lying and distorting the news about Cuba. This collaboration to fight the pandemic is being offered completely free of charge and health professionals taking part are doing so completely voluntarily.