Here in Cuba We Are Not Ready for COVID-19

By Miguel Arias Sánchez

HAVANA TIMES – The world is going through a tense and difficult time, in China, where the coronavirus outbreak appeared, the infected number is in the tens of thousands and thousands the number of deaths. The same invades the European continent, with Italy at the top among the most affected countries.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) data, the majority of people, 80%, recover from the disease without the need for any special treatment. One in 6 people who contract COVID-19 develop a serious illness, have difficulty breathing and require hospitalization. People with high blood pressure, kidney, heart, or diabetes are more likely to develop serious illness, says WHO.

With a cough and shortness of breath we should seek medical attention. The incubation period ranges from 1 to 14 days and is generally 5 days. It is spread primarily through contact with another sick person rather than through the air. When someone sneezes or coughs in front of us, the droplets they expel could infect us, that is why they insist that the distance we must keep from another person is between 1 and 1.5 meters, and to avoid crowds.

A vaccine to help slow its progress has not yet been found. Between the sanitary measures that they promote internationally and our state television in particular, they repeat washing your hands constantly with soap and water, and with an alcohol-based disinfectant. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose. To cough or sneeze, cover the mouth with a tissue or disposable napkin, or with the forearm. Contamination from contact with packages or other objects of manual use is low.

With all this information, it is logical that there is concern in Cuba. Before it was concern, but now that several cases have been confirmed, it is fear. Beyond being used to greeting each other with kisses and talking fairly close to each other, how can we avoid crowds? Separate more than a meter in a bus? In the lines?

Let’s bear in mind that most adult Cubans get in at least one line a day to acquire a necessary product, not for luxuries. Not to mention the shortage of toiletries such as soap or napkins that are scarce despite the fact that we are already in March, a month that was initially set as the limit to normalize the presence of toiletries on the national market. Then they postponed it until April, hopefully they won’t continue to push the date forward.

The use of antibiotics is not recommended, as they are not effective except for specific cases, but if this were not the case, we would also have a problem because these days it is difficult to get medications, as well as alcohol to disinfect our hands.

And to top it off, when many countries are closing their borders to prevent further spread of the coronavirus, the Ministry of Tourism encourages tourists to come, promoting that they will have a lovely stay.

We have all the conditions for the coronavirus to establish itself and enjoy good health on our island. Globally it is terrible, a few days ago there were more than 4,000 new cases in just 24 hours. So, we have no choice but, without creating panic or terror, be conscious on a personal level and try to do what is in our power to face this terrible situation that the world is going through.

Miguel Arias

Miguel Arias Sánchez: I was born in Regla in 1949. That’s where I went to elementary and high school. Afterwards I took courses to be a teacher and did that for several years. I did my military service and as soon as I got out I studied formally to be a teacher graduating at the University of Havana. I taught in classrooms for nearly 20 years. I had the opportunity to travel and see another reality. I returned and am currently doing different self-employed activities.

3 thoughts on “Here in Cuba We Are Not Ready for COVID-19

  • You can help by sending Canadian dollars (via Western Union/Canadian bank) directly to a Cuban family if you personally know one and have email contact. They will immediately retrieve the funds and spend it on much needed food and other necessities.

  • The trump administration should lift the stoppage of everything to and from cuba .cuba needs everyone help get through this tough time I’ve been to cuba myself 6 times and love it there. I wish there was away we Canadian could help Cuban people and get the things they need .

  • “…the Ministry of Tourism encourages tourists to come…” Seriously?

    And from what country are these tourists suppose to come from? Canada, Italy, (in fact all of Europe) and most Western countries from where tourists do visit Cuba have shuttered their borders. Any airlines in these virus stricken regions have either cancelled international flights or certainly curtailed them to next to nil.

    Also, if (this is a major if) visitors where to travel to Cuba how would the Cuban government treat those incoming possibly infected persons. Would the government not require them to be tested immediately or have them quarantined in some location for 14 days? Not a nice predicament for anyone looking to holiday whether it be Cuba or any Caribbean country.

    Most countries are instructing their residents to self isolate, practice social distancing (though this is very difficult to do in Cuba because of its cultural practices and their current shortage of basic supplies forcing people to gather in large numbers in lines as duly noted in the article) and work from home if possible again not something that can be easily or done at all in Cuba because of its lack of technical infrastructure. Therefore, more social contact which is exactly what WHO (World Health Organization) does not advocate when each countries goal is to flatten the pandemic curve.

    Is any country really ready to cope with COVID-19? Certainly in richer Western countries the governments have the financial resources to infuse fiscal stimulus into the economy to ensure small business and workers in general can sustain themselves financially. Governments will financially help the back bone of any modern, progressive economy – small business – to stay afloat until the country is on the other side of this pandemic. Cuba does not have the financial resources to do this, unfortunately.

    So, your analysis of Cuba’s capacity to deal with COVID-19 is correct. Let’s hope we all, collectively, can overcome this pervasive pandemic so that we can all resume our normal lives whether we live in Cuba or elsewhere.

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