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10 Apr 2020 | 03:47 AM UTC

Cuba: Public transportation suspended nationwide as of April 11 /update 6

Authorities suspend public transportation nationwide to curb COVID-19 spread as of April 11; follow authority directives

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CUB

Event

Cuban authorities announced on Thursday, April 9, that public transportation will be suspended nationwide as of Saturday, April 11, in efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The suspension applies to public and private transportation, as well as city, intermunicipal, and rural routes. Service will only be provided for those working in essential sectors, and will require face masks while in transit. 

On Monday, April 6, the Cuban government announced that curfews are being introduced in Santiago de Cuba province and in the municipality of Consolación Sur (Pinar del Rio province) due to coronavirus (COVID-19). In Santiago de Cuba province, residents will not be permitted to leave their homes from 19:00 (local time) unless under extraordinary circumstances. All public and private services will also cease operating during the curfew period. Police officers were deployed into public spaces to enforce the measures. In Consacion Sur, the curfew will come into force from 20:00. Similar measures have implemented in the El Carmelo neighborhood of Havana's Plaza de Revolución area, where a lockdown was imposed at 20:00 on Friday, April 3, due to the number of COVID-19 cases detected there. On Tuesday, March 31, authorities issued quarantine orders for the Camilo Cienfuegos community in Pinar del Río. Under the quarantine orders, no one is allowed to enter or exit the designated area except for those with a safe-conduct pass. No public transportation services will operate in the area and all individuals must remain in their homes. Authorities will also increase sanitation measures, such as disinfecting stairs and streets.

Other containment measures remain in place nationwide. All commercial and charter flights are suspended from entering or leaving Cuba as of Wednesday, April 1, and all foreign sea vessels have been ordered to leave Cuban waters. Authorities have banned the entry of foreign visitors into the country. Returning Cubans and foreign residents are allowed entry but face mandatory quarantine for 14 days in a government facility. Anyone who arrived in the country between Tuesday, March 17 and Monday, March 23, must be tested for COVID-19. Any tourists who did not leave Cuba on scheduled commercial flights must stay in a designated hotel until further notice.

Discos, nightclubs, and gyms are closed until further notice. Schools and universities will suspend classes from March 24 until April 30. Strict social distancing measures are also being ordered in businesses and stores. The government said it will deploy additional police officers into streets, grocery stores, and other public places to enforce the new regulations.

As of Friday, April 10, there are 515 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide and 15 associated fatalities. Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.