Strict quarantine measures have been implemented in areas of Havana and Pinar del Río as of Friday, April 3, to prevent further spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country. On Tuesday, March 31, authorities issued quarantine orders for the Camilo Cienfuegos community in Pinar del Río. Similar orders came into effect for Havana’s El Carmelo del Vedado neighborhood at 18:00 (local time) on Friday. 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.
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 were allowed entry but will need to be quarantined for 14 days in a government facility. Anyone who arrived in the country between March 17-23 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 April 3, 269 cases of COVID-19 and six associated fatalities have been confirmed in the country. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
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) labelled the outbreak as pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored 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.
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 non-essential 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 virus.
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