pic: Prasesh Shiwakoti @lomash_s
As of next January 10, all passengers on international flights must present a negative PCR result upon entry to Cuba. This means that travelers will have to show a document that certifies them as “negative to COVID-19”, which must be issued by a certified laboratory in the country of origin.
This test must be carried out 72 hours before the flight, and does not exempt the passenger from complying with all the health controls previously established. Initially, the possibility of applying this measure was discussed from January 1, 2021. However, its implementation has been postponed to the 10th in order not to affect those who already had purchased tickets.
Since the opening of Cuban airports to international flights, a significant and growing number of travelers have tested positive for COVID-19. This high percentage of cases detected with a source of infection abroad makes it necessary to reinforce controls on travelers to prevent the spread of the disease in the country.
Despite the efforts and appeals of the Cuban health institutions and the International Health Control, more than half (57.5%) of travelers carrying SARS-COV-2 transmit the disease to inhabitants of the island. This occurs especially on the second day of the arrival and before the results of the PCR test that is performed upon arrival are available.
In many of these cases, travelers, who must remain in isolation, relax the measures and receive visits, have family gatherings and even parties, thus causing the spread of the virus to their contacts.
Cases increase, controls are strengthened
As an example, on December 25, 183 cases of COVID-19 were detected in Cuba, 93 due to local transmision and 90 imported from abroad. The previous day represented a sad record in the number of cases detected: 217 confirmed with the disease, 101 with a source of infection abroad and 102 of positive cases due to contact inside Cuba.
As can be seen in the graph, as of November 15 there has been a significant increase in the number of cases. This date coincides with the opening of the José Martí airport in Havana. This measure also responds to the worldwide outbreak of the pandemic during December, including the appearance of a new strain of SARS-COV-2 in the United Kingdom that has spread to other countries.
Although the start of vaccination in several countries offers hope in the short and medium term to resolve the global health crisis that constitutes the pandemic, these are not times to be neglected. The largest of the Antilles has shown an enormous capacity to protect its citizens from this disease.
It is then time to take extreme precautions, so as not to return to quarantine or to the closing of borders as of the first months of this 2020, which – fortunately – is almost over.