Is the Coronavirus Under Control in Cuba?

or save yourself if you can III

By Regina Cano

We can talk.

HAVANA TIMES – Nearly twenty days after the first case of SARS-CoV-2 was reported on the island, Cuba has announced it is still in phase 1 – the inter-epidemic period -, although community transmission has been reported in Matanzas, as there are four other (secondary) cases of COVID-19 from one infected person.

By today, March 30, official sources report 170 confirmed cases in hospitals and more than 2600 Cubans and foreigners in hospitals under observation.

From the above, it appears that the number of infected (which has been steadily increasing up until now) could grow exponentially, like it has in other countries, in hotspots at first, and then across the entire country.

That’s to say that while the number of sick people appears to have been steadily increasing or within concentrated areas, a short transmission chain, this number could suddenly skyrocket and multiply from the previous number of people, for example: 5, 25, 625 and so on, according to baseline data of the number of people infected which is variable, like a shock wave, given the fact Coronavirus highly contagious.

Anyhow, this is just a theory, but it could become reality in terms of probability.

This might happen in spite of our government thinking that they have implemented measures before the following phases, looking at the Chinese experience it seems.

In addition to advising the population about taking proper hygiene measures (washing hands, using a mask and hand sanitizer and disinfectant on surfaces), they have also added people keeping a sensible distance away from each other, limiting movement in public spaces – “social distancing”.

As well as prevention via keeping close tabs on the entire population nationwide by following the contacts of the infected. This also includes the involvement of police forces to ensure that orders to only go outside in the case of essential needs or not having children or the elderly outside, to name a few, are complied with.

A line to buy a one liter bottle of hypochlorite per family.

In the meantime, there were many protests on social media about Airports not being shut down in time or for letting travelers off a British cruise ship with 5 confirmed cases, enter the country for repatriation.

At this point in time, Jose Marti International Airport is the only one currently operating, partially, receiving approximately a hundred and so Cubans and foreign residents, up until a few days ago, it was announced. However, there are still foreign tourists on the island who should have already left by now and are instead enjoying the safety that Cuba offers, in comparison with their own countries.

Home quarantine is being observed after airports were closed, but according to witness accounts, people who returned a while ago and whose quarantine should be ending, home quarantine that is, are beginning to be isolated. They have been monitored by doctors and are now being sent to isolation centers, at the risk of becoming infected within these very centers.

This specific measure warns about the extreme decision that certain groups are being made to observe, in this case travelers returning to the island (including Cubans working on international government missions) and their families, who are at risk of catching the virus in these centers, when they have observed over half or are nearly finishing their magic 14 days in self-quarantine. They could be observed by doctors for another few days, be tested again so that the number of people infected in these isolation centers doesn’t grow.

But no, we’ll be like every other country, where the weakest die and only those who are strong enough to overcome the disease will survive.

In these isolation centers, despite the government announcing that they have many of the necessary safety measures in place to contain the virus, there is also a high risk of infection, thereby opening a new front for infection.

Regina Cano

Regina Cano: I have lived my entire life in Havana, Cuba – the island from which I’ve still never left, and which I love. I was born on September 9, and my parents chose my name out of superstition, but my mother raised me outside the religion professed by her family. I studied accounting and finance at the University of Havana, a profession that I’m not engaged in for the time being, and that I substituted for doing crafts, some ceramics, and studying a little English and about painting. Ah! – concerning my picture: I identify with Rastafarian principles, but I am not one of them. I wear this cap from time to time, but I assure you I just didn't have a better picture.

3 thoughts on “Is the Coronavirus Under Control in Cuba?

  • Hi Nick!
    I was in Cuba at the time of the cruise ship incident described by Nick and he gives an accurate description. I watched the procedure on Cuban TV. I counted ten Transtur coaches. The drivers were wearing protective clothing and the passengers were not allowed off until walking the short distance to the four Boeing 777 aircraft. None visited the terminal. That meant a long wait on the coaches of several hours, particularly for the last flight which left in the dark.
    Many of the passengers expressed their thanks by gestures as they climbed the stairs to the aircraft.
    There is a tendency at times like this to forget concern for all and to concentrate upon what poses as national interest. We all carry DNA from the same source – that’s humanity.
    Cuba promotes its tourism internationally and yes, Cuba was late in closing the gate. Although the first cases were some Italians, the Cuban government did not take real action until the evening of March 20th. Even then, that was done on TV with an audience sitting close together on chairs (no social distancing) and the President, Prime Minister, Vice Prime Minister and that smarmy Mesa Redondo host Randy Alonso Falcon, sitting around a table in close proximity to each other – with not a mask in sight.
    Now is not the time for odious concerns, now is the time to recognize our common humanity and the common threat. I write from sole isolation, my door is locked.

  • I’m British and here’s my understanding of the cruise ship episode:
    The British authorities requested that the USA assist with the cruise ship situation. Our noble U.S. allies apparently refused. Barbados and The Bahamas also apparently refused. It is reported that there were five confirmed cases and a number of passengers with symptoms. The ship and passengers were in this predicament for around a week.
    Cuba permitted the ship to dock at Mariel and the passengers were taken by bus to the airport and put on charter flights.
    I have criticised Cuba’s response in other posts and mentioned that this slowness of response is to do with the over-reliance on tourism. But this particular reaction to the stricken ship is something I cannot fault.
    I have seen reports that Cuba allowed the ship to dock to gain good publicity or perhaps as a down payment on some future favour……
    But the passengers won’t be bothered about what this or that commentator says – they are just extremely damn thankful that Cuba facilitated their passage back home.

  • Is the Coronavirus Under Control in . . . substitute any country in the world as of March 31/’20? The answer is unequivocally NO.

    Some countries are coping better than other countries each trying to, as medical officials say, flatten the curve. Unfortunately, some countries such as Italy, Spain, and up to a few weeks ago the U.S, did not take this pandemic seriously enough to begin with. As we have witnessed catastrophic consequences resulted. The United Sates is now entering a period where Italy and Spain were weeks ago and as the U.S. President stated many people will die. How many did he publicly state? One hundred thousand at a minimum!! No control there.

    I suppose Cuba can also be lumped into the category of self denial countries as senior government officials were continuing to allow tourists into the country and offering assistance to passing cruise liners with COVID-19 cases.

    As most professional health experts advise the most pronounced method to flatten the curve is containing community spread. This is done by social/physical distancing person to person and to remain in isolation (at home) if at all possible. Easier said than done, especially in Cuba, where social distancing is an anathema to their cultural and societal practices.

    Unfortunately, if Cuba cannot contain community spread COVID-19 will result in dire consequences. Let’s hope the country can.

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