Cuba’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has become an envy of many countries in the region.
New cases have dropped to less than 10 per day on average from a peak of around 50, and two thirds of the island is virus-free, according to official data.
For example, Reina Paula, a saleswoman at Havana’s La Epoca supermarket, said the same day that a worker tested positive for the coronavirus, local authorities sent the rest of the staff in a fleet of state vehicles to isolation facilities for testing.
Healthcare providers traced their relatives and sent them into quarantine, while state news outlets publicly appealed to anyone who had had close contact with them to come forward to prevent the virus from spreading.
“They followed the clinical steps like a Swiss clock,” said Paula, at home after recovering from the worst of COVID-19.
Those who tested positive were transferred to hospital, where they were given antivirals and immune system boosters, while the others were sent home to quarantine for two weeks.
Paula’s story illustrates the rigorous approach Cuba has taken to curb the coronavirus outbreak - helped by the island’s preventive, universal and well-staffed healthcare system, centralisation and use of coercion.
Doing so was politically vital for Cuba’s ruling Communist Party, which claims the country’s strong healthcare system as a key achievement, even as it has failed to deliver on the economy, partly due to a US. trade embargo.
Last Monday was the ninth consecutive day with no deaths from COVID-19, while the highly infectious disease continues to rage throughout the Americas.
“We could be shortly closing in on the tail end of the pandemic and entering the phase of recovery from COVID,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel said.