By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES – It became clear that there was a really serious health crisis in my neighborhood, ever since the morning of Wednesday November 11th. Three Public Health vehicles were parked out front the doctor’s office. Two were municipal and one with the province’s logo on the door. Inside the doctor’s office, several people in white coats were holding a meeting.
We soon learned that a Canadian tourist, who is in a relationship with a neighbor living close by, a rooster’s call away, had tested positive for COVID-19 with a PCR test, and was being taken to Holguin. Something else happened that very day, by chance. Four Mayari locals tested positive from the same family who had traveled from Spain. Fortunately, they had only been in contact with 7 people when their test results quickly came back.
The greatest cause for concern was the fact that the Canadian had first tested negative when he was administered a PCR test at the airport. It wasn’t until he did the second test five day’s later, that he tested positive. Even more serious, it took four days for the result to come back, bringing his stay to a total of nine days in Cuba, eight of which were in Mayari, in my neighborhood to be more exact!
The infected man was staying at a private hostel, but he was traveling every day to my neighborhood to share festive moments with his girlfriend’s family. He was traveling in private cars that he rented, especially from a neighbor who has a US jeep from the ‘50s. He went to sort things out at two banks in the city, at immigration, went to stores, private restaurants and talked to many people. Some of these places are now shut down.
Forty-one contacts were recorded on the first day, and they are all isolated at home until their PCR test results come back. However, we know that this figure has shot up quite a bit in recent hours, while it is being investigated. It’s that easy for things to get bad in a municipality or town, with this pandemic that terrorizes us. It has completely changed our lives.
This case has already made our lives harder. That very day, cooking oil for every family unit was going to be sold via the rations booklet. However, this was called off until further notice, to stop crowds of people. They first want to gauge just how far the infection has spread.
Son Music Festival with Covid-19 in the air
The epidemiological situation also coincides with the traditional Son Music Festival here in Mayari. The event was already taking place with limited capacity and without large shows, due to the current situation in the country and the world with COVID-19, but even so, it implies a certain number of people working or taking part. However, so far it hasn’t been called off. This despite the positive cases and the fact that COVID-19 may be running rampant in the region.
Mayari has received 39 travelers ever since international flights resumed. All 39 visitors were administered a PCR test at the airport, in line with health protocols. Twenty-six tested negative and five were positive. The rest are still waiting for their results, according to the Municipal Health authorities. Of the 26 who tested negative, only one tested positive with the second test administered 5 days later, which is the Canadian tourist’s active case.
There is no doubt that the ‘new normal’ is a much greater challenge in the country’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. Before this phase, when the strategy changed from “social distancing and total lockdown’ to ‘trying to live with the disease with more timely measures’, cases, even imported ones, had already shot up.
In Mayari, we have had 12 confirmed cases up until now, two of which were locally transmitted between March and April at the beginning of the pandemic. The rest have been imported, at least 50% have come from abroad in the past month, after the ‘new normal’ was announced.