Cuba is getting creative about facemasks to battle coronavirus.
The government has converted a textile factory in Sanctí Spriritus and is producing face masks with the aim of protecting people from the coronavirus, instead of making school uniforms and other items.
Masks have become increasingly hard to find in many countries shattered by the outbreak, but Cubans are famous for their ability to figure out a solution despite any obstacles. Cuba’s Health Ministry has even posted a video online advising Cubans how to make their own masks. The factory has already made thousands of the masks.
Cuban health officials announced that three Italian tourists were the island’s first confirmed cases of the sickness. The tourists apparently brought the illness with them on holiday when they arrived in Cuba on Monday and are now in isolation at a hospital in Havana.
Cuban health officials said they had 3,200 beds ready across the island and several military hospitals would be opened to the public to handle a potential influx of people with the virus.
Although Cuban officials said they had recently increased screening at airports, no restrictions have been placed on visitors from any of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus. The Cuban economy is dependent on tourism, which has been in decline following a series of punishing economic sanctions and travel restrictions from the US government.
While Cuban health professionals have a long history of working in disaster zones, the coronavirus will present a unique challenge to the island’s already battered public health care system.
Thousands of Cuban doctors are abroad on medical missions, earning badly needed hard currency for the island’s government.