Cuba facing COVID-19: New measures to be adopted in Havana

Cuba facing COVID-19: New measures to be adopted in Havana

Due to the complex situation in the west of the country and the capital in the face of COVID-19, a group of restrictive measures are reported to reinforce the social and physical isolation in the territory, and face the tense scenario it presents.

The Governor of Havana and experts from Minsap and the University of Havana appeared this Thursday at the Round Table to assess the current epidemiological situation of COVID-19 in the country and report on the new measures that will be adopted in the capital to confront the tense scenario that the territory presents.

It is a group of restrictive measures to reinforce social and physical isolation in the territory. The proposal was analyzed in a working meeting with the presence of José Ramón Machado Ventura, second secretary of the Central Committee of the Party; Manuel Marrero, Prime Minister; Víctor Gaute, member of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Party and head of the Ideological Department; Luis Antonio Torres Iríbar, first secretary of the Party in Havana; Reinaldo García Zapata, Governor of the city, as well as the full Council of Ministers.

In the capital, it is necessary to increase the perception of risk and self-responsibility to contain the transmission of COVID-19 and achieve epidemiological stability.

“It is inconceivable that the president (Miguel Díaz-Canel) has insisted on the importance of telework and that now there is a decrease in this modality,” said Manuel Marrero.
What happened in August and why did people start talking about regrowth?

Raúl Guinovart, dean of the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Havana, gave a summary of what happened in August and why there was talk of regrowth at the beginning of this month.

According to Guinovart, one of the causes was that, despite a low circulation of the virus, there was also a low perception of risk and therefore of protection.

The expert affirms that the transport stoppage measures in Havana and restricted access to the capital, among other measures, have caused the exponential growth of active cases in the capital to stop.

After August 15 – the professor affirms – we have decreased, but very slowly; which shows what was said previously that the decrease would be very slow. The expert called on the public to take all protection measures.
The case of Havana

Havana in recent days has achieved good results, however it is not enough to flatten the contagion curve. It is important that people become aware and comply with everything established, he explained.

It is necessary to strengthen individual and institutional responsibility quotas.
Fundamental characteristics of the pandemic in the country

Dr. José Raúl de Armas, Head of the Department of Communicable Diseases of the Ministry of Public Health (Minsap) referred to the situation in the country after 169 days, when 3806 positive cases for COVID-19 have already accumulated.

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Similarly, he mentioned the fundamental characteristics of the pandemic in the country, and highlighted the decrease in the mortality rate, thanks to the expertise of doctors and the application of an effective drug protocol.

Among these characteristics, he pointed out that most of the cases are asymptomatic, male, and there has been an increase in the age group of the youngest.

In August, he noted, we have 517 active patients and 3,197 have recovered. Of those active cases, 2.8% have had a serious state of the disease.

On the other hand, he stressed that there are 12 broadcast events in the country at this time, the main focus is on Havana and Artemisa. However, he stressed that the provinces that have passed to other phases should not neglect protection measures.
Laboratory network for the diagnosis of SARS CoV-2 in Cuba

Vivian Kourí, First Deputy Director of the Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine (IPK), explained that Cuba has a network of 16 laboratories. However, as a result of the epidemiological situation and the increase in cases, it was necessary to create new capacities and study more samples and patients.

In this sense, new laboratories were incorporated, which reached 12 in this month of August.

For the diagnosis, real-time PCR is performed, that is, the detection of the SARS CoV-2 genome in a sample of nasal and / or pharyngeal exudate from the patient.

Similarly, he pointed out that training was initially received in Mexico, which was later extended internally to the rest of the Cuban workers.

In Cuba specifically, the diagnosis began on February 14. The first reagents were donated by PAHO to the IPK National Reference Laboratory for Influenza and other respiratory viruses.

Regarding the activity carried out by the IPK reference laboratory, he mentioned:

PCR-TR reagent evaluations
Rapid test evaluation
External validation of Cuban kits for detection of antibodies to SARS CoV-2
Evaluation of media and swabs for sample collections
Evaluation of different equipment for AC extraction. Nucleic and PCR-TR
Quality control of the other laboratories
Confirmation of patients with progressive and persistent PCr
Research on viral characterization and pathogenesis

Vaccine candidates open a scenario of optimism and faith, but we cannot lower our guard

Dr. Pablo Feal Cañizares, First Degree Specialist in Epidemiology and Director of Prosalud at the Ministry of Public Health, expressed that there is no doubt that the recent news about the new vaccine candidates opens up in the population a scenario of certain optimism and faith on this coronavirus problem, but – he pointed out – we cannot yet lower our guard or our defenses.

With regard to the vaccine, there is still time for it to be fully ready, it is a process that still takes time, said the expert. Feal Cañizares criticized that we have seen a group of people who continue to go out without much need, while in our homes are our grandparents who are still the most vulnerable people, he said.

I am not labeling young people or a certain group of adults as bad, nor saying that they are the most responsible in the issue of the spread of the pandemic, but we have to point out those people who have an unfavorable behavior, said the doctor.

On the other hand, he recommended that we must continue to use the nasobuco, and use it well, we also have to continue advising the washing of hands and surfaces, as well as physical distancing, he stressed.

People have to assume that they have to face this problem with discipline and responsibility. At the same time, we must remind people with symptoms that arriving late to the doctor is arriving early for complications, we must ask for help without fear because regrowth can generate a feeling of anxiety, said Pablo Feal Cañizares.

We must insist that our colleagues in the health sector take care of themselves, we must remember that health education is a powerful weapon alongside social discipline, it is true that we are in difficult times, but they are also times of much love and much solidarity, from which we can all emerge triumphant by adopting the correct and responsible measures, stressed the specialist.

New measures adopted in Havana

Reinaldo García Zapata, Governor of Havana referred to the measures that the Provincial Defense Council has adopted so that Havana passes to Phase I but given the non-compliance of the people and some institutions, the decision had to be made to return to the Phase of limited autochthonous transmission, as there was a regrowth of the disease.

This regrowth, he added, was characterized by dispersion in all municipalities, and due to non-compliance with the approved measures. Many of these peaks were caused by community and institutional events.

We are currently working on six local broadcast events.

For the adoption of these measures, the opinion states of the population were taken into account in order to guarantee greater discipline, demand and rigor; also the current situation and the increase in cases; the need to increase the perception of danger and self-responsibility; the meetings held with the Cuban President, the Prime Minister, the Provincial Defense Council, about what else we could do.

The need to contain the transmission of COVID-19 and achieve epidemiological stability to undertake state tasks (economic activity, start of the school year, among others), and reinforce comprehensive actions that allow the control of the transmission.

In the case of the employment situation and the new measures, García Zapata pointed out that the centers that are not of continuous production or prioritized services remain closed or with the minimum of essential workers. In the same way, what currently exists must be re-analyzed and each agency will make the corresponding proposal. On the other hand, the actual use of teleworking and remote work must be evaluated by center.

Main measures that will enter into force from the 1st. of September:

Prohibit the mobility of people and vehicles from 7 pm to 5 am the other day.
Reevaluate the current freeway authorization in national and provincial entities to reduce the number of authorized vehicles. In no case will the existing ones be increased.
Significantly restrict the movement of cars, motorcycles and private means of transport.
Eliminate interprovincial transfer for tourist, vacation or other reasons, both when entering or leaving Havana highly restricted.
Eliminate the departures from La Havana for 15 days for work reasons to all organizations and institutions.
Limit the movement between municipalities of people who exercise private street vendor activities, with the objective that there is no mobility and they only eat in their municipality of residence.

Proposals for work in the currency collection stores CUC, MAI, Ideal markets and others:

Propose as hours of sale and services from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 4pm, and on Sundays from 9am to 1pm.
Make sales only to residents in the municipality where the establishment is located. The document that proves it will be the identity card.
Organize and promote the sale of food and toilet modules to those centers that are essential at this stage.
Limit only the sale of food and hygiene products.
Locate points of sale in the places where the commercialization of these products is most unprotected.

Stronger disciplinary measures:

Empower the governor during this period, of a legal instrument that allows applying severe fines with high amounts in events such as:

The non-use or incorrect use of the nasobuco

The non-existence of foot steps, chlorinated or alcoholic water solutions in state entities, services to the population, non-state forms, as well as non-governmental associations.

The permanence of people in living areas, parks, public roads outside the established hours.

The use of cultural and sports areas.

Carrying out exercises, games or staying on public roads.

Allow minors or disabled adults to be on public roads, parks or other areas, the guardians will respond.

Keep premises, gastronomic facilities or services open outside the established hours for any form of management.

Holding parties of any kind

Drinking alcoholic beverages in public places.

Other provisions that regulate the health authorities.

Together with the Minint and the inspection bodies, carry out incremental measures to reinforce the confrontation in the districts, neighborhoods and communities, with the aim of enforcing the measures approved in this epidemic phase.
Apply to the violators of Decree 201 and 272 It will contravene the regulations related to hygiene and the fine that is established in each case will be imposed (To the person in charge of the center that violates the sanitary regulations in force in its installation 3000 pesos. compliance with the sanitary measures dictated by the authority 2000 pesos to natural persons).
The PNR and other organs of the Minint, the DISC, the body of health inspectors, the state transport inspection and the DEC are empowered to impose said fines for the duration of this situation.
The Municipal Administration Council will organize groups made up of the organizations mentioned above to guarantee compliance with this provision in each territory, ensuring its execution down to the neighborhood level.