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Cuba Approaching 3,000 Positive Cases of COVID-19 in a Single Day

COVID-19 en Cuba

MIAMI, United States. – This Sunday, Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) reported 2,723 new cases of COVID-19, a number that is approaching 3,000 positive diagnosis in a single day after several months of confirming less than 1,000 daily cases.

The ministry also reported two new fatalities as a result of the illness, which raises the number of officially-confirmed deaths in the island to 8,328.

According to official data –which activists and members of the independent press have challenged- since the beginning of the pandemic in the country, MINSAP has accounted for 977,410 cases of the disease.

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Until close of day Friday, 18,574 individuals were hospitalized for COVID-19. Of these, 9,728 are suspect of having been infected with coronavirus SARS-CoV-2; 351 are under observation; and 8,495 are active cases, i.e., patients with confirmed diagnosis who have neither recovered nor died and remain hospitalized.

Of the 8,495 positive coronavirus cases, 8,457 are in stable condition; 38 are being cared for in intensive care units across the country (four of them in critical condition, 34 in serious condition).

Of the total COVID-19 cases reported throughout the day on Friday, 2,472 were contacts of previously diagnosed and confirmed patients; 114 had a foreign source of contagion. Until today, 137 cases have no identified source of contagion.

The age groups affected with the coronavirus in the last 24 hours were as follows: 20 years of age and younger (555); 20 to 39 years of age (889); 40 to 59 years of age (829); and 60 years of age and older (450).

Camagüey and Pinar del Río provinces remain the new pandemic epicenters in the island, with 438 and 346 reported cases in the last 24 hours, respectively. They are followed by: Matanzas (274), Cienfuegos (221), Artemisa (207), Las Tunas (186), Havana (174), Mayabeque (157), Holguín (139), Villa Clara (129), Sancti Spíritus (122), Guantánamo (106), Granma (66), Santiago de Cuba (62), Ciego de Ávila (55) and Isle of Youth (41).

To date, and according to official data, there have been two patients evacuated; 55 returned to their countries of origin, and 960,530 recovered patients, for a total of 98.3% of all cases diagnosed in Cuba.

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Cuba Again Reports More than 2,000 COVID-19 Cases in One Day

COVID-19 en Cuba

MIAMI, United States. – This Saturday, Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) reported 2,174 new cases of COVID-19 after the country held that number below 2,000 cases diagnosed daily for several months.

The ministry also reported a new fatality due to the illness, which brings the total number of officially-confirmed deaths to 8,326 in the island.

According to official data –questioned by activists and independent press outlets- since the beginning of the pandemic in the country, MINSAP has reported a total of 974,687 cases of the disease.

Until end of day on Friday, there were 15,904 individuals hospitalized for reasons related to COVID-19. Of these, 8,929 are suspect of contagion with coronavirus SARS-CoV-2; 349 are under observation; and 6,626 are active cases, i.e., confirmed patients who have neither recovered nor died, and remain hospitalized.

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As of today, of 6,626 COVID-19 active cases, 6,587 are in stable condition. Meanwhile, 39 patients are under intensive care across the country (four in critical condition and 35 in serious condition).

Of the total cases reported this Friday, 2,025 were contacts of patients previously confirmed, while 97 had a foreign source of contagion, and 52 cases have no identifiable source of infection as of now.

The age groups affected by coronavirus in the last 24 hours are as follows: 20 years of age and younger (430); 20 to 39 years of age (722); 40 to 59 years of age (677); and 60 years of age and older (345).

As of now, Camagüey, Pinar del Río and Matanzas provinces remain the new epicenters of the pandemic in the island, with 361, 293 and 251, respectively, reported cases in the last 24 hours. These are followed by: Mayabeque (164), Havana (153), Las Tunas (146), Villa Clara (137), Cienfuegos (129), Sancti Spíritus (120), Holguín (100), Artemisa (98), Guantánamo (81), Ciego de Ávila (57), Granma (50), Isle of Youth (21) and Santiago de Cuba (13).

To date, and according to official data, two individuals have been evacuated; 55 were returned to their countries of origin, and 959,678 patients have recovered, accounting together for 98.5% of all cases diagnosed in Cuba.

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Between Collapse and Exclusivity: Health Tourism in Cuba amidst the Pandemic

An operating room at the “Cira García” Clinic, in Cuba

HAVANA, Cuba. – When the tourism sector in Cuba began to collapse in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Cuban government propelled campaigns to attract foreigners to “a safe country” with a “strong health care system”.

Reality turned out to be unsafe and fragile. Shortly after the first opening of its borders to tourism in November 2020, the Cuban health system collapsed. Old infrastructural problems in the health care system that had accumulated long before the pandemic, surfaced, and the model based on primary health care caved in.

The chronic shortage of medications, as well as the collapse of hospitals and funeral services crushed the international image of Cuba as a medical power, an image that sustained health tourism.

Regardless, the medical facilities available for the health care of foreign patients stand in sharp contrast with the hospitals, polyclinics and medical offices available to Cubans.

According to Dr. Miladys Orraca, president of Comercializadora de Servicios Médicos Cubanos S.A. (CSMC, by its Spanish acronym) –Cuba’s medical-services marketing company- Cuba offers services to foreign tourists throughout the country: “Five specialized clinics, nine international health clinics, medical offices in all tourism poles, and pharmacies and opticians that serve foreign clients through 280 different programs.”

In particular, the “Cira García” Clinic, the leading medical facility earmarked for health tourism in the island, is a facility promoted as a “comfort zone”. In it, each patient can rely on the most advanced technologies, private rooms with direct oxygen supply and other lodging comforts and medical services.

Of all the services offered by the clinic, seen in today’s context, one in particular stands out: the clinical analysis of pediatric patients suffering from post-COVID-119 syndromes.

Through blood tests, doctors at this facility can diagnose the health condition of a minor after contagion. The program was designed by the clinic’s own pediatric specialists for foreign patients, tourists, and, of course, for government officials who do not go to the same hospitals for their health care that are assigned to the Cuban people.

CubaNet contacted via e-mail the “Cira García” Clinic to ascertain if they offered treatment as well to pediatric patients who were Cuban nationals. The institution responded as follows: “The clinic has been designed for a health tourism modality. No medical or dental care services are given here to domestic patients, as they are provided free-of-charge as part of our public health system.”

In spite of that statement, CubaNet found no similar medical services offered in any of the hospitals available to Cuban nationals, least of all hospital conditions that could resemble the “high standards of excellence” of those earmarked for tourists and the elite, the very thing that makes for the great contrast between health care provided to Cuban nationals and that provided to foreigners.

Contrasts

“Excellence and quality” is the slogan used by Comercializadora de Servicios Médicos Cubanos S.A. (CSMC) to promote medical facilities linked to health tourism.

This same modality applies to “La Pradera” International Health Care Center, located in the plush Siboney neighborhood of Havana. The medical center-cum-hotel offers medical programs ranging from orthopedic, respiratory and cardiovascular rehab to therapies to combat stress.

According to the directors of CSMC, it is in other countries, not in Cuba, that health care systems fail.

According to a release published in Granma in 2016, tourists “have told us that in their countries of origin, they have no resources available and that they experience long waiting periods before they can undergo surgical procedures or other treatments.”

La Pradera and Health Tourism: Trading Oil for Physicians, Gold for Sleighbells

The more than 250 medical programs available to tourists include personalized services for each patient, and they start at US$ 2,500. Likewise, the fact that they are personalized allows patients to be near tourism poles like Varadero, Santa Lucía, Santiago de Cuba, Pinar del Río and Holguín.

Prices for the various treatments fluctuate around the international median price, but this does not jeopardize the regime’s profits. The regime finances these institutions without gain to the national health care system. Specialists who work in these centers are paid ridiculously low salaries when compared to that of colleagues in other parts of the world.

This business is comprised of a network that includes the best medical, scientific and research centers in the country, with an availability of advanced technology that allows for more than 150 diagnostic tests to be administered.

Among the most notorious centers, in addition to those already mentioned, we find the Neurological Restoration Center; the Placental Histotherapy Center; the “Camilo Cienfuegos” International Center for Pigmentary Retinosis; the Medical and Surgical Research Center (CIMEQ, by its Spanish acronym); as well as the addiction rehabilitation centers belonging to Cubanacán Agency, an entity of the military business conglomerate GAESA.

If that were not enough, there are wards for foreign tourists within the same hospitals where the health crisis is decimating the Cuban population today. Several hospitals in the capital have international –foreign patients only- wards, among them the Gastroenterology Institute; the Hematology and Immunology Institute; the Oncology Institute; the Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery Institute; and others in pediatrics and surgery.

In addition, at the “Vladimir Illich Lenin” General Hospital in Holguín, whose collapse was recently in the news, there is an international ward on the fifth floor, adjacent to the Cardiology ward.

Vaccines for Tourists

The Cuban government has promoted vaccinating tourists against COVID-19 with its own vaccines (Soberana 02 and Abdala). In addition, it considered supplying Nasaferon (a Cuban nasal version of Inteferon alfa 2-b) to international travelers, as optional preventive treatment to avert COVID-19 contagion.

Vicente Verez, Director of the Finlay Vaccines Institute, in Havana, expressed certainty that in 2021, Cuba’s entire population would be vaccinated against COVID-19. “Tourists will have the option to vaccinate themselves in Cuba if they so desire,” stated the scientist in a segment on TeleSur channel that promotes “beaches, the Caribbean, mojitos and vaccines” in Cuba.

The Regime Invites Tourists to Cuba: “Beaches, the Caribbean, Mojtos and Vaccines, All in One Place”

However, reality derailed Cuba’s plans. Cuba is far from reaching tourism high season 2021 (October) with the pandemic under control. In its attempt to stop the rapid spread of the virus, the government even reached out to the Chinese for their Sinopharm vaccine

Simultaneous to the regime’s announcement about opening its borders to foreign visitors in late 2021, many countries are issuing travel alerts due to the high risk of contracting the virus in Cuba.

While this is happening, Cubans are left to fend for themselves to obtain “free” medical attention. In the meantime, foreigners and the ruling elite can opt for “relaxing from stress, curing illnesses and elevating their quality of life” thanks to the practice of health tourism in the island.

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Just Two Months before Re-Opening to Tourism, Cuba Still Shows a Rate of “High Transmission” for COVID-19

Cuba, COVID-19, dengue, MINSAP

MIAMI, United States. – This Thursday, Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP, by its Spanish acronym) reported 78 new deaths due to COVID-19 and 7,628 contagions from the disease. According to official data, which activists and independent news outlets have challenged, the number of deaths due to the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is 6,601, and the number of cases diagnosed since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, stands at 776,125 cases.

Dr. Francisco Durán García, national director of Epidemiology at MINSAP stated this Thursday that the country still shows a rate of “high transmission” for the disease. According to him, the 78 deaths reported are from all 14 provinces and 46 municipalities.

Thursday’s report indicates 11 deaths in Granma province, followed by Artemisa and Villa Clara with 10 deaths each; Pinar del Río, Las Tunas and Holguín with 7 each; Havana with 5; Mayabeque, Ciego de Ávila and Santiago de Cuba with 4 each; Sancti Spíritus and Camagüey with 3 each; Cienfuegos (2) and Guantánamo (1). 

Among the dead, there are 12 patients younger than 60 years of age, and five persons who were “apparently healthy”.

According to Durán García, until close-of-day Wednesday, there were 95,550 individuals hospitalized due to COVID-19; of these, 53,772 are thought to have contracted the disease, 3,034 are under observation, and 38,794 are active cases, i.e., patients whose COVID-19 diagnosis is confirmed who have neither recovered nor died and are, therefore, still hospitalized.

Of the 38,794 active cases, 38,336 are in stable condition; 458 patients are in intensive care: 138 in critical condition and 320 in serious condition.

To date, and according to official information, the island reports two cases evacuated; 55 returned to their countries of origin; and 730,673 patients who recovered from the disease, accounting for 94.1% of all patients diagnosed with COVID-19 since March 2020.

Even though Cuba is facing the worse outbreak of COVID-19 contagion, the country’s regime plans to open its borders to international tourism starting on November 15th. “Keeping in mind how the vaccination process has progressed in Cuba, its proven effectiveness and the prospect of having more than 90% of the population fully vaccinated by November, conditions are being prepared to open its borders gradually, starting on November 15, 2021,” according to a recent release from the Ministry of Tourism.

Up until September 2, Cuba had vaccinated only 36.2% of the population with its domestic vaccine, according to information from Dr. Francisco Durán García, national director of Epidemiology at the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP, by its Spanish acronym). Likewise, the regime expects that 92.6% of the population will be fully vaccinated by November, in spite of the fact that the initial plan of health authorities to have 70% of Cubans vaccinated by August was not met.

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