The renowned Almacenes Ultra department store, located on Reina St., Havana.
Daniel Palacios (Cafe Fuerte)
HAVANA TIMES — Havana’s Almacenes Ultra department store will remain closed “until further notice” on instructions from the Cuban Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP).
The busy store was closed last week owing to “large concentrations of mosquitos and rodents and severe leaks in sanitary facilities,” store sources confirmed.
Located in Centro Havana, Almacenes Ultra is one of the busiest State department stores in the Cuban capital, drawing thousands of customers every day.
“The store looks very pretty from the outside, but things are rather different behind the counters. The warehouses aren’t as clean as we would want,” said one of the cashiers at the store, who chose to remain anonymous. The clerk was transferred to a neighboring hardware store.
No announcements as to when the store will reopen have yet been made. Several of the more important services that had been offered in the store, such as money transfers via Western Union, were relocated at the Yumuri and Carlos III shopping centers in Havana.
Officials from MINSAP and the Anti-Epidemic Campaign have been seen inspecting store facilities.
This incident arises within the context of intense efforts undertaken in Havana to combat several outbreaks of dengue fever and cholera, epidemics that threaten to place the island’s sanitary authorities in check once again. Havana was hit by outbreaks of these two illnesses at the beginning of the year.
Official efforts to contain the spread notwithstanding, garbage piled up around the city and the deplorable condition of Havana’s sewage system continue to be huge obstacles in the way of eradicating these illnesses.