Recovery Setback in Western Cuba with New Covid-19 Outbreaks

The government has decided to reinforce and extend measures directed at containing a new COVID-19 outbreak.

By IPS-Cuba

In Havana, there are 15 hotspots or cases in 10 of its 15 municipalities and daily infection rates are higher than forecasts. Photo: Jorge Luis Banos/ IPS

HAVANA TIMES – A municipality in the western Artemisa province has had to go back from stage three to stage one of the recovery process, because of a spike in cases. Hotspots in 10 out of Havana’s 15 municipalities and reduced transport routes between western provinces because of risks involved, reveal that Cuba no longer has COVID-19 under control.

During a meeting of the temporary task force set up to prevent and control COVID-19, Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel pointed out the night before that the upward trend of cases in the past two weeks marks a relapse of progress made in May, June and the first two weeks of July.

With 25 new cases confirmed by the end of August 4th – 13 in Artemisa, 10 in Havana, 1 in Cienfuegos and another in Guantanamo, the country has recorded a total of 2726 cases, 257 of which were diagnosed in the past 12 days, according to the Public Health Ministry’s daily briefings.

[The August 6 report issued today showed 54 new cases, 43 of those in the different Havana municipalities, and the other 11 cases in Artemisa, Matanzas and Villa Clara provinces.]

The president warned that if this situation – concentrated in the Artemisa, Havana and Mayabeque provinces – wasn’t brought under control, it wouldn’t only compromise people’s health and lives, but also the beginning of the school year, scheduled for September, as well as economic recovery.

Every time there is an outbreak, more people are admitted into hospital, more people are held at different isolation centers, more money is spent on healthcare and every time a people’s council, community or municipality is put into lockdown, it costs a lot for the country, which is suffering an economic relapse due to the pandemic and is trying to deal with this aftershock.

“We will continue to put our people’s health first,” the president stated, who called for discipline and responsible action of both the population and institutions, to raise risk awareness, increase the quality of contact tracing, increase more rigorous controls, ensuring the immediate isolation of cases, people they have been in contact with and any possible chain of transmission, without any sloppy business.

Meanwhile, he stressed the fact that “we can’t lack the capacity to decide to put an area that begins to become problematic or display abnormal behavior, into immediate lockdown.”

Havana and Artemisa

According to government announcements, the Bauta municipality, in Artemisa, which has reported 90 new COVID-19 positive cases since July 21st, also reporting 13 people testing positive on August 4th, went from stage three of the recovery process back to phase one.

There have also been reports that there is a third case of local transmission in this province, at the Building and Assembly Company in the Mariel Special Development Zone, where another 10 positives cases were just confirmed.

According to the weekly digital newspaper Tribuna de la Habana, the Cuban capital has 15 hotspots or cases in 10 out of its 15 municipalities and daily infection rates higher than what was forecast. As a result, it is practically “on the brink of another outbreak, which negatively coincides with national results.”

The article states that during a meeting of the National Defense Council, deputy prime minister Roberto Morales included the geographic connections in the capital between its neighborhoods and municipalities and the great movement of its inhabitants as the cause for this upturn in cases, which increase the risk of infection and spread the disease.

Faced with this situation, he made a call to health services to treat anyone who goes into a health center as a suspected case of COVID-19 and to act following established protocol and without any sloppy business, which has compromised the pandemic’s containment.

In a video conference call, the city mayor, Reynaldo Garcia, announced that measures will be stepped up to prevent more cases and the spread of the disease, and that he would suggest to the national task force to reinforce some of the restrictions imposed during the national lockdown, while also calling for civic responsibility.

On the other hand, it came to light that the Ministry of Transport is working on a plan to reduce the circulation of vehicles in between Havana, Pinar del Rio, Artemisa, Mayabeque and Matanzas, which will be presented shortly for implementation.


7 thoughts on “Recovery Setback in Western Cuba with New Covid-19 Outbreaks

  • August 9, 2020 at 9:41 pm
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    Stephen, you are a realist! Where we live in Cuba, there are no tourists, so they are not missed. ALL transport was stopped, no “buses” , no taxis, no bici-taxis, masks compulsory. Although fortunately, Canada has much lower infection and death rates than the US. there is little that any Canadian can teach the Cuban regime about controls – and enforcing them.
    Although it was 6.00 p.m. on Friday March 20 when ALL TV and radio stations made simultaneous live broadcasts with the Diaz-Canel and Marrero explaining anti-Covid measures, by 3.00 p.m. on Monday 23rd March we were visited by a City official with instructions – they made such visits to every home. For once, totalitarian rule had advantages.
    Lawrence I think, represents the average Canadian tourist – disclosed by reference to “every shop and mall”.
    No conception of life for the average Cuban. As a Canadian acquaintance said to me: “We have been to Varadero six times, but never understood Cuba until we read your book.” Package tourists live in cocoons.

  • August 9, 2020 at 4:14 pm
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    Stephen I like your sarcasm keep up the good works.

  • August 9, 2020 at 9:39 am
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    Lawrence:

    “Start working harder to contain virus…’ Isn’t that exactly the sentiment a totalitarian state tells its people: you must work harder, tighten your belts, it’s your fault things are they way they are. Of course, the quoted statement coming from a Canadian makes perfect sense. Most Canadian tourists have no idea how traumatic and difficult this pandemic has caused the ordinary Cuban.

    Realistically the Cuban transportation system operates with packed buses to ride people from place to place. What a political transformation it would be for the Cuban government to purchase more buses so that only 10 to 15 people ride comfortably and undisturbed so as to respect physical distancing. That works well in Canada with its opulent buses, its technologically efficient transportation system, transit riders with the option to take their cars if discomforted. Despite the pandemic Cubans have no choice but to cram themselves unto buses to get to work to earn their subservient wages.

    With regard to wearing face masks a very appropriate health wise approach for the pandemic, however, entering most stores is not an option for numerous Cubans because many do not have the money to purchase anything in these stores and secondly, waiting in long lines for hours on end under a hot sun is more the reality for the majority of them. In Canada, no Canadian would tolerate such hardship and simply abandon the store purchase and drive miles away to where the hardship has been eliminated. No such luxury in Cuba.

    “…stop the spread now your people and your country are in serious breach…” Get serious. There was one weekend in southern Ontario – close to Toronto as a matter of fact – where there was such a large crowd of unmasked, no physical distancing protocol, party goers that the police had to be called in to restore order to follow proper health guidelines as set out by the Ontario Ministry of Health. The Ontario premier was livid and called for hefty fines for these callous culprits. It’s not the Cuban people who are in “breach“, nor Cuba, but perhaps some self indulgent Canadians. It hits home.

    On the subject of self indulgence, “ . . .get well soon my trip depends on how fast you can keep the virus under control.” I am sure every Cuban has the Canadian tourist in mind as they struggle day to day, week to week, for economic survival, suffering innumerable humiliations in not being able to afford, or more often than not even have access to basic foods (rice, chicken) we Canadians take for granted.

    Yup, get well soon Cuba because a Canadian needs to leave his opulent existence in heavenly haven Canada to enter another world of affluence in a five star hotel on sunny beach in a hopefully conquered COVID-19 Cuba.

  • August 8, 2020 at 11:49 am
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    Start working harder to contain virus don’t let anyone travel out of country government people,army anyone keep it contained use more buses stretch out limited to 10 to 15 people on any bus were not having as many now here in toronto however, the younger people need stricter rules applied no gatherings of more than 4 people at a time make wearing face mask mandatory in all stores anywhere where their in public we have to wear here at all times going anywhere to shop ect. No movies no diners ect stop the spread now your people and your country are in serious breach dont waste valuable time put sanitizers in every shop and mall ect then you will see a major decline in a very short space ,you need to keep up on the warnings in order for people to see the real picture get well soon my trip depends on how fast you can keep the virus under control … keep safe
    Lawrence gates Toronto

  • August 8, 2020 at 11:40 am
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    One difficulty with the $5 billion Mariel development which was paid for by Lula, is that in order to provide people to operate and work at the port, there is a fleet of coaches (also paid for by Lula) to transport those people daily, 30 to 60 miles from places including Candaleria and the city of Artemisa, where a few cases have arisen in those workers – but, no others.
    The major outbreak is in reality related to Havana, as Bauta although in the province of Artemisa, is adjacent to Havana and the province of Mayabeque also adjoins Havana.
    The photograph illustrates the problems in Havana, no social distancing, few masks and the need to somehow find food in a densely packed community.
    One hopes that the Cuban authorities manage to get the new outbreak under control.

  • August 7, 2020 at 11:29 pm
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    It rises off? I meant rises up.. sheesh.

  • August 7, 2020 at 11:28 pm
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    Just when you think you got the virus killed off, it rises off, ATTACK it! FEROCIOUSLY, With no mercy, kill it.

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