By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES – According to the Cuban government, the country is back to its ability to set records. However, this time it is not about low infant mortality or athletic feats. For the last week, several days headlines announced a new record… this time in positive Covid-19 cases detected on the island.
Saturday April 3rd was the latest record-breaker. The Communist Party website Cubadebate ran the headline: Cuba has a new record with 1,162 positive tests. On Sunday, the number dropped to 1,066 in the country of 11.2 million inhabitants.
The good news is that there are still a greater number of cases per million inhabitants in the United States. The US is the perennial measuring stick for Cuban authorities. Doing better than the US at anything is a source of pride for the country’s leaders.
While vaccinations are becoming widely available in the enemy to the north, Cuba is undergoing clinical tests on several homegrown vaccines. The effectivity of the Cuban vaccines will be forthcoming when the test period is over.
In the trial, thousands of Cubans are now happily receiving their first and second dose of the locally produced vaccines. Tests will also reportedly take place in Iran, one of Cuba’s allies.
The government hopes to mass produce vaccines for domestic use and for sales abroad. It also plans to offer its vaccines to tourists.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health reports 26,319 persons currently in isolation, 3,885 suspected of having Covid-19 and 4,806 active patients. While there is an outbreak throughout the country, the most cases reported in recent days are in Havana, Granma and Matanzas.
The country’s leaders continue to blame the population’s indiscipline as a main reason for increased cases. However, the lack of basic foods and medicines and the need to wait in long lines to get them is nationwide.
Why the food and medicine shortages?
With farm production in a year-to-year decline, and the government without funds for imports, ordinary citizens suffer the consequences. The leaders have their needs taken care of without having to wait in the endless lines. It is easy for them to tell people to stay at home.
Readers should be aware that the decades long failure of Cuban agricultural policy has nothing to do with the US embargo. Endless speeches tell small farmers to plant more as a patriotic duty, but the farm bureaucracy works to take away any incentive to increase production. Likewise, the state farms have proven they are not the answer with their well-known low productivity. The latest plan is to widely use transgenic crops.
Medicines are also available on the world market from Cuban allies such as China, Russia, and also India. Even US companies can sell medicine to Cuba under a two-decade embargo exemption, which also includes food products. The problem is cash $$$ to buy them.
Priorities are priorities and while the government invests in several vaccines that could be profitable, scabies and bed bugs are a nationwide problem. Incredibly, there are often no basic medicines to treat them. Other patients with numerous chronic health problems are also often without their medications.