By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES – The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Cuba is rising extremely fast, and the population – as well as family, friends and compatriots abroad – are quite worried.
Cuba may have hundreds of doctors to contract out to countries in need during the emergency, but the sad reality is that Cuban hospitals are in deplorable conditions, sometimes with limited water, few bed sheets and poor hygiene, not to mention the shortages of medicines and equipment.
The doctors and nurses, of course, want to serve the population in a humane and efficient way, that’s how they were trained, but appropriate conditions are rarely there.
Yes, facilities are much better for foreigners taking advantage of Cuba’s well-known reputation as a destination for health tourism. However, for ordinary Cubans, who should be the first ones to have quality care, the reality is otherwise.
On March 11, the first 3 cases of Covid-19 in Cuba were announced on the evening government news. By March 22, the number had risen to 35.
A week later, the official figures published on March 30th, showed 170 confirmed cases, 4 dead, 1010 suspected cases and 2,681 hospitalized (including 91 foreigners and 2,590 Cubans). Over 29,885 more are under surveillance at their homes.
Social distancing is being recommended by Cuban health authorities as one of the ways to prevent contagion. No social isolation stay home order has been issued thus far, but certain businesses including discotheques, swimming pools and gyms were ordered closed while others like bars and restaurants can remain open if they observe the social distancing.
For many people the idea of staying home would seem an impossible challenge, because they must wait in innumerable lines to obtain a small quantity of food or hygiene products when available.
Now the government says some of those items will be rationed at the neighborhood bodega stores. But it remains to be seen if there will be enough of the most basic products to go around. Frankly, there is no indication that there will be.
The elderly, the most vulnerable to Covid-19, have the additional dilemma of having to line up for hours at the pharmacies when a certain medicine they need is reportedly for sale.
Despite having a national health system open to all citizens with no charge, this very serious global pandemic has clearly reached the Island and quickly spreads.