Covid-19 Epidemic in Cuba at its Worst Moment

In Havana, those people violating the rules face fines between 2,000-3,000 pesos, and criminal proceedings will apply. Photo: Jorge Luis Baños / IPS

By IPS-Cuba

HAVANA TIMES – With 431 new cases of covid-19 on Sunday and five deceased in two days, Cuba reached its highest epidemic figures. If they cannot be contained with the measures adopted, a regression to the limited autochthonous transmission phase will occur.

[The figure on Monday was 487 new cases and 550 on Tuesday, with 5 more deaths in those two days. The community transmission phase is now the case in Havana.]

This phase is declared for confirmed cases without a clear link with travelers from affected areas. They are limited to small conglomerates in localities or institutions of the country.

According to Francisco Durán, Head of Epidemiology at the Ministry of Public Health, at the end of January 10, 5,715 patients were admitted to hospitals. Out of them, 2,802 were confirmed, the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic, last March.

Primary health care physicians estimate increases in the coming days that could top 500 patients a day. The country had accumulated a total of 15,007 people diagnosed with the disease since March 11, 2020.

Statistics show that 11,187 of infections (74.9% of the total) have their contagious source in the contacts of confirmed cases. However, 3,518 people diagnosed in the country (23.4%) have a source of infection abroad.

On a covid-19 daily press conference, Durán emphasized that 5,658 of diagnosed cases (76.7 percent) since November 15, are linked to international travelers. He also added the violation of quarantine protocols at home by travelers and cohabitants.

To try and stop the spread

Cuba’s plan for Covid-19 recovery comprises phases I, II, III – each with its restrictions – and the new normality phase. To move from one phase to another the incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days and the PCR tests compliance percentage, carried out as an indicator of the active case search process, are considered. Health authorities adopted restrictive measures since January 8 in the different Cuban provinces. They correspond to the complexity of their epidemiological situation. The government warned that if the epidemic is not contained, new and more severe restrictions would be adopted.

In addition, public, recreational and cultural activities were suspended, among other measures.

Back to the past

After more than 160 days without COVID-19 cases, the province of Guantánamo has the highest incidence rate per 100,000 inhabitants: 66.51. Due to this, since January 11, all private and state public transportation and school attendance was suspended. The measure included the 82 schools in Guantánamo and Niceto Perez, both in limited local transmission phase.

Other restrictions include the suspension of booking of interprovincial trips and the closure of bus terminals and train stations. Likewise, suspension of office procedures related to transportation and the limitation of passengers in private cars. New measures include the cessation of transport between 9 PM and 5 AM. Additionally, suspension of public, recreational and cultural activities (theaters, cinemas, bars, discos and swimming pools, among others). Increased promotion of remote work. The above are some measures in force in Havana where a record number of 126 cases was registered in one day.

The government of Havana has decided that in addition to the fines, ranging between 2,000-3,000 pesos, criminal proceedings would be initiated.

Other previously announced measures include the limitation of flights from countries reporting higher levels of infected passengers, especially the United States. Also, the requirement of a negative PCR certificate from an accredited laboratory, carried out in less than 72 hours before the trip.

More closure

As usual, the digital publications forums and social networks immediately echoed the measures taken to contain the transmission.

While some consider them adequate and even think they should have been taken before, others demand stricter measures. For example, in Cubadebate the Internet user Ander Barrenetxea considered that the school year should be stopped throughout the country.  However, Jazmin claims not to stop it in Havana, but to exert control where sanitary measures are not complied with.

[On Wednesday the government announced a suspension of the school year in 34 municipalities including the 15 in the capital.]

Other criteria refer to the continuous breach of discipline by travelers and their cohabitants. They “escape through the patios and go out to spread coronavirus.”

3 thoughts on “Covid-19 Epidemic in Cuba at its Worst Moment

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  • December 30, 2020 at 11:44 AM ·
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    Desde el inicio de la pandemia y mucho antes que este proceso penetrara en Cuba, he realizado innumerables llamados y sugerencias basados en mi limitada experiencia en el diagnostico de enfermedades transmisibles catastroficas en los medios sociales, acerca de la imperiosa necesidad de Cuba cerrar sus fronteras al trafico internacional.

    Fui atacado por numerosos frentes y acusado de intentar sabotear el turismo, cuando altos funcionarios proclamaban que “Cuba era segura”.

    Una vez detectado los primeros casos, confie en la probada capacidad del personal de la salud de Cuba para su control y erradicacion, para lo que propuse en el mes de Febrero o Marzo, mantener a toda persona no esencial en sus casas durante un mes, entregarles los medios basicos de subsistencia y abastecer el comercio en evitacion de las colas y aglomeracions por ser fuentes de constante re-infeccion.

    Propuse se abriera la Aduana de Cuba y se permitiera el masivo ingreso de alimentos, medicinas e insumos libre o bajo arancel, de manera abastecer en parte al pais. Propuse abrir los puertos al cabotaje cuyos productos y personal podria ser controlado epidemiologicamente en los muelles. Se hizo caso omiso y se empeoro la situacion epidemiologica con la introduccion del MLC y un notable aumento de las aglomeraciones.

    Al anunciarse la reapertura de los aeropuertos al trafico internacional sugeri como unica opcion viable, la concentracion de los vuelos internacionales el los aeropuertos de Cayo Coco y Cayo Largo, donde despues de un minucioso pesquizaje de 2-3 dias, recibirian el alta y los viajeros continuarian hasta su destino final. La orden fue abrir todos los aeropuertos del pais menos la Habana. con el consiguiente crecimiento exponencial de indice de infecciones.

    Lamentablemente, ningun llamado, arengas o disposicion de lucha acabara con la infeccion. Solo la accion mesurada, analizada y a la vez drastica sugerida desde antes que la infeccion penetrara al pais, podria erradicar este proceso de Cuba antes de el mes de Febrero del 2021.

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