Cuba Has Beat the Pandemic

By Elio Delgado Legon

Adriana Cosme uses a mask when buying vegetables in Havana. Photo: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

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.

Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

12 thoughts on “Cuba Has Beat the Pandemic

  • No doubt about it, Cuba has done and will continue to do an admirable job in fighting the COVID-19 catastrophe. Kudos to the Cuban health authorities.

    Unlike many countries Cuba has mandated right from the very beginning of the pandemic that all Cubans must wear masks while in public places and failure to do so will result in punitive charges. Many countries, Canada included, did not make this controversial mask mandate compulsory in all public spaces thus has not been as successful as Cuba portends to be in rapidly flattening the curve.

    Only today, (June 30/’20) four months after the pandemic has taken its human toll, Toronto’s mayor and medical officer of health are recommending that non-medical masks and face coverings be made mandatory in all indoor public spaces. By Cuban health standards perhaps Toronto’s approach is too little too late; nevertheless, Canada is one of the countries accepted by the European Union to allow Canadians to travel freely anywhere in Europe so overall Canada must be doing a recognizable job in its pandemic purge.

    Getting back to the article “Cuba Has Beat the Pandemic” the island certainly has done well. Now, how about all those hungry Cubans who have now survived the pandemic scourge now lined up on mass, hour after hour under an unbearable tropical scorching sun for perhaps a much needed morsel of food. Will they be cheering the Health Ministry for the virus victory or will they continue to curse the government for their inability to purchase basic food to feed their hungry families?

    It is one thing to admire what one hand is doing – the Health Ministry – whilst the other hand – the inept government – is mismanaging the very body of its essential nutrients causing country wide food deprivation. This is not something Cuba wants to publicly admit but it is reality on Cuban streets, in the country and in the capital. No distortion here.

    Elio sums up his article: “So, one thing remains clear for these ill-intentioned people who are always lying and distorting the news about Cuba.”

    The truth is what it is.

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  • Finally HT publishes an article that is not critical of the regime. The U.S needs to fine and throw people in jail for not wearing a mask. Maybe then, the US will not have the highest rate of Covid 19 in the world.

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  • From public health to the police – as a citizen of the United States, I can honestly safer I fell safer in Cuba than here.

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  • Curt is again correct in pointing out that in Cuba people risk getting thrown in jail for not wearing a mask. That also applies to those who dare criticize the regime. MININT goons are kept busy.

    I thought that Elio had gone into retirement, good to know he is still around and faithfully replicating the pronouncements of the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba. Long may he continue to entertain.

    In his enthusiasm, Elio omits to mention that Cuba as late as February, was promoting tourism, because Cuba was “Covid 19 free”. Then those Italians arrived at a casa particular in Trinidad on March 11, before being transferred by ambulance to Havana. I and indeed others still in Cuba, were unaware that the Italians infected any others, believing that the first Cuban to become infected was a man in Matanzas on March 18, who worked at Varadero, where a Canadian tested positive.

    The regime acted thereafter with speed. All TV stations showed the same program at 6.00 p.m. on Friday 20th March, with the President, Vice- President, Prime Minister and Vice-Prime Minister sitting at a table – but none wearing masks. They (with the exception of the Vice-President who is the token black in the hierarchy), over a period of two hours, laid down the conditions that all Cubans would have to adhere to and that those holding tourist visas had to go – pronto!

    Tightly packed meetings of the Party faithful commenced in Havana on March 22, with the usual hierarchy addressing them, and at that time, none wearing masks and inevitably the plump scowling First Secretary of Havana PCC, sitting centre on the front row. But, on TV, there were diagrams and instructions of how to make masks, I retain four made at home, that I used when at the airports and on the aircraft on my journey to Canada, where I was greeted with a form laying down the mandatory conditions for sole isolation.

    There have been some areas of Cuba – the non-tourist ones in the main, that have been almost Covid 19 free, but they have too’ed the line and stayed at home except for the almost daily need to search for food. That remains the main reason for failure to maintain social distancing. Schools will not open prior to September.

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  • Yes, Cuba beat Zika also until it was discovered that they didn’t and weren’t disclosing infections, so I would take anything from the Cuban government with huge grains of salt.

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  • It’s good to see that Elio is well and contributing again.
    I regularly read somewhat one sided viewpoints on HT website both in terms of articles and comments. That’s not to say that these viewpoints are in any way dull coz they ain’t.
    But it’s always good to get opposing somewhat one sided viewpoints. To have opposing sets of somewhat one sided viewpoints creates a nice healthy balance.

    I’ve missed Elio’s articles.

    Que sigas bien jefe.

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  • Welcome back Elio, I have missed your perspective on things. I agree with Nick, it’s always good to hear the many sides of every story.

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  • Doug, If you miss Elio’s comments, you can always go to Cubadebate – which also faithfully records the views of the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba.

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  • Linda – in today´s situation with so many of the population posting on Facebook, how can the Cuban government be hiding things ? If there really were more cases than they say, don´t you think that the friends and neighbours of those cases would be saying things ?

    In some countries there have been reports of increases in pneumonia related illnesses – I have not seen any such reports about Cuba.

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  • If Andrew Butchers you actually believe that the Cuban government cannot hide things, you possess remarkable innocence.

    But in the matter of Covid 19, I believe their figures to be accurate as I have conversations daily with my wife. Even bici-taxis were banned.

    The quandary after the population living through all the restrictions – which have been applied rigorously – is how to re-introduce the critical revenues of tourism, without re-introducing Covid 19. Having once made the mistake back in February of promoting tourism because Cuba was “Covid free” and the almost inevitable consequence of the Italians arriving in Trinidad, Cuba will correctly be reluctant to repeat the experience.

    Providing additional contractual medical services will in part, have ameliorated the economic problems, but they were deep prior to the pandemic, with Venezuela unable to continue as the “sugar daddy”. China may decide to limit the credit which it has been providing. The food shortages are marked and widespread.

    You may have noted, that Elio carefully avoided mentioning the subject of food. The photographs that HT has shown, and the reports given by my wife, confirm that those shortages are factual, rather than rumours created by “those ill-intentioned people who are always lying and distorting the news about Cuba.”

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  • I agree with Linda’s comment. Be wary of anything put out by the Cuban government. Every year Cuban mouthpieces declare one crop or another is being harvested in record numbers. In fact, there is a saying in Cuba, the best place to find potatoes in Cuba is the evening news.

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  • ……..and the potatoes Moses, are served up to the Party faithful at the Round Table by Randy Alonso Falcon, who doesn’t serve them until they are mealy in the mouth!

    New record set in 2019 for sugar production, down to a mere 1.1 million tonnes necessitating importation. Guinness ought to record! A real success for Machado Ventura!

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