By Miguel Arias Sanchez
HAVANA TIMES – After almost three months of being practically cut off from the world at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I now go out to take a walk, with my mask and a bottle of disinfectant to wash my hands every now and then, taking care to keep my distance.
This disease has taken thousands of lives across the globe, and a vaccine still hasn’t been found. At this point in time, many countries have relaxed lockdown measures, which were absolute in some places.
We have seen this happen in China, Italy, Spain, countries where the pandemic was completely merciless; in others such as the US and Brazil, which have been the epicenter in the Americas. Every country has adopted measures depending on the virus’ impact, some more efficiently than others, some with more government support than others. The fact is that so much human and economic loss continues to be great for everyone.
It’s no different in Cuba. We are suffering the impact of this disease, although a lot of work has been done, respecting health protocols. There is a key point to success bringing these efforts during the lockdown period home: discipline, both of the State and institutions, as well as the population.
Opening up the country again to everyday activity has been planned and staggered in phases, which I believe is very smart; right now, the majority of the country is in the second phase and Havana continues to be in the first because it continues to report cases of local transmission.
The capital is a more problematic place because of overcrowding. Generally-speaking, we live in special conditions in Cuba because we spend most of our day in crowds, whether that’s on buses, in never-ending lines, or gatherings of friends or family.
Even in these dangerous times, with the wealth of information out there about how the disease has crippled the world, there are still some people who go out and don’t wear a mask or wear it incorrectly.
The government has given the population free access to beaches, and it’s very difficult to enforce health measures there. Public transport is running again, which is another central point. Young people especially are meeting up in groups to talk, drink, eat, without keeping their distance – although older people are doing it too. In short, I’m waiting for the moment a new outbreak is reported, like what has happened elsewhere in the world.
I was surprised because with shortages of cleaning products and water in some parts of the capital, the situation hasn’t been that dire, but now I’m afraid the second outbreak might be worse. We still haven’t understood just how dangerous this virus is and how easily it can be transmitted. We haven’t got it into our heads that this isn’t just about me, but it’s about everyone.
I am scared, maybe because I feel like I’m part of a risk group, in this case, just being a human being. We have already seen that this virus doesn’t discriminate against age, gender, race or place of birth. If we all act a little responsibly and do things properly, we might be able to make it out of this science fiction movie a little better off.