Cuba Reports First Coronavirus Death, Welcomes British Cruisers

Breaking News: The Cuban Communist Party’s official newspaper reported the first death from coronavirus on the island.

HAVANA TIMES – As more coronavirus cases are confirmed in Cuba, the island reported the first death, a 61-year-old Italian man, early Wednesday.  The health authorities said they did everything possible to treat the patient and sent their regrets to his family and friends.

Thus far the government’s health authorities are reporting 10 confirmed cases on the Island. The newest three cases are Cubans in Villa Clara province that recently returned from Madrid, Spain and New Jersey and California, EUA.

While Cuban doctors have a highly positive reputation responding to different types of disease and disasters around the globe, on their home soil many medicines are cronically in shortage and hospital facilities greatly deteriorated. Likewise, even basic foods and hygiene products are frequently missing from stores where most people shop.

Operation to get Britons Home

The MS Braemar lands in Mariel west of Havana. Photo Abel Reyes /

Later on Wednesday morning the Fred Olson MS Breamar cruise ship docked in Mariel, 35 miles west of Havana with over 1,000 tourists and crew, mostly British, and some with the coronavirus.

After a request from the British government, the ship received authorization from their Cuban counterparts to dock in Cuba and then organize an airlift from the Havana Airport. 

The MS Braemar previously tried to dock in Curacao and Barbados but was denied entry.

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, which operates the vessel, confirmed four aircraft had landed in Cuba ready for the rescue operation. The first flight was set to depart at 6 p.m. local time (ET), reported CNN.

Five people aboard the cruise ship tested positive for the virus, according to a statement from Fred Olsen Cruise Lines. A further 28 passengers and 27 crew members, including a doctor, are in isolation after displaying symptoms. The number has been rising over the past few days, noted CNN.

Foto Ricardo Lopez Hevia /

There are 682 travelers and 381 crew members on board, said the cruise line company.

The Cuban government said it allowed the MS Braemar to dock out of “humanitarian concerns” and the need for “a shared effort to confront and stop the spread of the pandemic.”

The three charter flights of apparently health passengers will reportedly all go to London’s Heathrow Airport. One flight with people who tested positive for coronavirus or have flu-like symptoms and their companions will be flown to Boscombe Down, a military base west of London with medical personnel on board. 

The British government expressed gratitude to the Cuban authorities for allowing the transfer operation to occur on Cuban soil.

“On the issue of cruises, we’ve been working intensively with the Cuban authorities […] to ensure that all of the British nationals are able to return quickly and safely to the UK […] within the next 48 hours,” said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

“We are very grateful to the Cuban government for swiftly enabling this operation and for their close cooperation to make sure it could be successful.”

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3 thoughts on “Cuba Reports First Coronavirus Death, Welcomes British Cruisers

  • Anything to make a buck. Knowing the realities of Cuba this was a cash grab and publicity stunt at the cost of health of Cuban citizens. Sad.

  • I think it was a very humane deed the Cuban government did by taking in the virus infected travellers on the cruise ship. The world needs to understand how noble the Cubans are and compassionate, especially as they have so little in the way of resources themselves due to the ongoing embargo. This poor country has been very unjustly vilified and it is time the world reached out and embraced them back into the fold. I would like to add how sorry I am for the deceased Italian man, but I am sure they would have done everything possible to have tried to save him.

  • So glad to read that the mission has been accomplished in seeing that the British travelers have been safely flown back to their homes in the United Kingdom. This is a great example of what can be done when Countries work together. Sorry for the loss of one of their fellow passengers.
    Now, for the other 24 cruise ships wandering around looking for a place to dock… There are a lot of stranded people in lots of countries around the world.

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