Coronavirus: of caution to Cuba before re-opening its borders

For the past month, Cuba seems to contain successfully the outbreak of coronavirus, which encourage him to prepare for its reopening to tourism, its economic engine. But the caution is as new homes appear in Havana.

“The country is preparing all the strategy to the stage of recovery after the Covid-19, but we’re not going to apply it before to be sure that there is a precise control of the epidemic”, warned recently, the president, Miguel Diaz-Canel.

Clean-up crews have already started to disinfect and to develop the airports and hotels in the country, in view of their upcoming reopening to the public.

If the borders are officially closed until the end of June, several airlines rely on the fact that the measure will not be prolonged by offering tickets as early as July.

But after a few weeks, where the daily averaged around a dozen, the announcement of an outbreak of more than 60 contagions related to a commercial center of Havana, a laboratory and a transport company has the effect of a cold shower.

As a precaution, Cuba has still raised no restriction: schools remain closed, public transport suspended and the use of mask is compulsory in the streets.

“This problem is not resolved to Cuba, and even less in the world, and it is necessary to be very careful in relaxing the measures,” said dr. Francisco Duran, director of the department of Epidemiology of the ministry of Health.

Guinea pigs

The island of 11.2 million inhabitants, however, does not have to be ashamed of its balance sheet: on Tuesday, she collected 2092 cases including 83 deaths, with more than 180 active cases.

By comparison, the Panama, with 4 million inhabitants, has recorded more than 13 000 cases and 336 deaths, which has not prevented restart partially its economic activity this week.

On the last 15 days, the rate of contagion in Cuba was 2.33 to 1 000 000 people, with no new cases in 11 of the 16 provinces.

The country applies strict isolation measures compulsory in gymnasiums or schools disused, to all contacts of positive cases.

And after you have closed its borders on march 24, he has isolated the tourists in hotels in the State. Of the 60,000 still on site when the president announced this measure, it is about 4000.

These are ultimately guinea pigs for a new type of tourism, post-coronavirus.

“I arrived in Cuba in January for me to rest, when the coronavirus first appeared. I had to leave in April,” says Irina Jatkievich, fifty-year-old Russian housed in the hotel State Comodoro in Havana, looking slightly défraichie.

“It has been two months that I live in this hotel”. But “the attention is very good,’ she says.

“A bastion”

Omar Milian, director of the hotel, the period has the value of a test: Cuba “has a great need to continue to exploit the tourism, and we need to be pioneers in introducing an international protocol for the tourists to see that Cuba is a safe country”.

Among the measures introduced: tourists can no longer serve directly from the buffet, the tables are spaced out and the reception is arranged to prevent contact between employees and customers.

The bar has no stools at the counter and customers can’t approach the bartender when he prepares cocktails.

A protocol is being developed for the access to the pool and to the beach.

“Our country will become a stronghold, among the first in the world to get out (of the crisis), with a tourism safer, more reliable,” says Omar Milian.

The Italian Davide Cuttica, who arrived in Cuba in march, can already bear witness to these new conditions: “at each entrance to the hotel, we have chlorine to wash our hands,” says this forty-something woman sipping a coffee in the lobby.

But the interdiction to go out or to swim to the nearby beach.

All the tourist have not been as happy as Irina and Davide, and thus become stuck in hotels in the State, less warm and much more expensive than the “casas”, accommodation rented by the inhabitant.

Some have posted videos on the social networks to protest their conditions and the food, in this country struggling with shortages are recurrent.

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