14ymedio, Havana, 12 March 2020 — Three Italian tourists who arrived in Cuba last Monday have tested positive for the coronavirus. The travelers arrived on the island on March 9 through José Martí International Airport in Havana and traveled east to Trinidad, in Sancti Spíritus province, according to the primetime television newscast.
One day after their arrival, the travelers presented respiratory symptoms, so “they were immediately admitted to the Pedro Kourí Tropical Medicine Institute (IPK)” and this Wednesday, March 11, the laboratory of that hospital confirmed that “they were positive for the new coronavirus. ” According to the authorities, the tourists are being treated and their situation is favorable.
The local newspaper Escambray has spoken with Manuel Rivero Abella, provincial director of Health in Sancti Spíritus, who gave details on the situation of the contacts of those affected. Seven people were physically close to them and could potentially have been infected: the car driver, the tour operator and five workers at the Trinidad hotel where they stayed.
All of them have been sent to the Doctor Faustino Pérez Provincial Rehabilitation Hospital, a center designated for the isolation of these cases, although for now they remain asymptomatic. If their condition remains the same, they will be sent home under extreme surveillance for follow-up by epidemiologists and health teams.
“If in the next few days they have any clinical symptoms, they will undergo a nasopharyngeal swab and, if confirmed, they will go to the Villa Clara Military Hospital as designed in the Plan for the Prevention and Control of Covid-19” Rivero Abella said. The province has 42 isolation beds.
On the other hand, on Monday it was learned that three students from the Faculty of Architecture of the José Antonio Echeverría Technological University of Havana, known as Cujae, were sent to the IPK under observation on suspicion that they were infected with the coronavirus, although the official media have not confirmed that information.
An architecture student, a friend of the three hospitalized, confirmed to 14ymedio that there are three students who were in contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus after his return from Panama.
“They are not letting them speak directly to anyone,” said one of the students who has not been able to communicate, even through instant messaging, with the young people after they were admitted.
Through WhatsApp, the students shared photographs and many of the details of the process of arrival at the IPK where they are being seen, but at one point they stopped interacting through that means.
An internal statement made public at the Faculty of Architecture explained that the students had had contact with three professors and that those specific classes would not be held this week “as a preventive and security measure.”
The text insists that classes will not be suspended until there is a medical opinion, but the opening of the “March 13” sporting events and also the Prats and New School international workshops will be canceled.
The administration of the school also recommends “maintaining calm and serenity” and complying with “hygiene and sanitary measures guided by the Ministry of Public Health.”
The document says that as soon as they have “the information with certainty” it will be communicated immediately and “appropriate and corresponding measures will be taken.”
Internal students of the Faculty of Architecture regret that the call for extreme cleanliness and hygiene occurs at a time of difficulties with the supply of water and other cleaning supplies. “Now the water arrives only once every two days and when it arrives it’s a joke, the tanks are disgusting,” one of the students told this newspaper.
President Donald Trump suspended all trips to the United States from Europe, with the exception of the United Kingdom, for at least 30 days to “prevent new cases from entering,” part of several “strong but necessary measures.” The decision has already been criticized by the EU.
On the continent, at least 1,192 cases and more than 30 deaths have been reported, the largest number being located in the United States, where the virus is present in almost 40 of the 50 states and, according to local data, has left 37 dead, the majority of them in Washington state. PAHO data also reflects deaths in Argentina (1), Canada (1) and Panama (1) and includes the first two patients in Honduras, where on Wednesday President Juan Orlando Hernández called to act “with citizen responsibility” to avoid the spread of the disease.
The Bolivian transitional government — after reporting the first two infections in that country — declared a “national emergency” to facilitate the use of state resources in actions against COVID-19. Several countries, such as El Salvador, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Guatemala, began to impose quarantines on travelers from Europe or China.
One of the strictest measures was taken by the President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, who declared the entire country in quarantine on Wednesday and prohibited the entry of foreigners for 21 days, as well as classes and crowds of more than 500 people such as concerts and football matches. A similar decision was made in Guatemala, where there are no confirmed cases and as a preventive action all travelers arriving in the country from Europe by air will be quarantined.
Chile, where there are 23 confirmed cases, demanded that travelers entering from Spain and Italy, even if they are Chilean citizens, pledge to remain isolated for at least two weeks. The Governments of Argentina, Colombia and Peru did the same but also included travelers from France. In the case of Colombia, where yesterday it was reported that infections rose from 3 to 9, travelers arriving from France, Spain, Italy or China should enter “self-isolation in their homes for 14 days.”
Meanwhile, Argentina, which reports 21 cases and one death from the disease, ordered that citizens arriving from nations with a high circulation of coronaviruses go into quarantine. This isolation will also include footballers who play in foreign clubs in whose countries the coronavirus circulates and who are summoned to the senior team.
In Europe, Italy continues to be a concern, the focus of the greatest exponential growth so far, with 827 deaths and more than 12,000 cases. The Italian government has decided to enact a total blockade of the country, with the closure of all businesses, with the exception of those that offer basic necessities, such as supermarkets or pharmacies, for a couple of weeks.
Services such as public transport, or essential services such as banking, postal, insurance, are guaranteed; and also agricultural activity.
In France and Spain, where the evolution of the disease is very similar, with approximately 2,300 infected and around fifty deaths, measures of social distancing have been imposed with the closings of shows, museums, educational centers and other places where people gather in large numbers. In addition, the population has been called on to minimize their movements and teleworking is promoted in order to reduce the peak of simultaneous infections that congests the health systems, something that has been achieved with greater luck by Germany, where despite having a number of detected cases similar to that of its neighbors, there have only been three deaths.
The good news came today from China, where the peak has come to an end. “New cases continue to decline. We believe that we have exceeded the peak of the current epidemic outbreak, which now remains at a low level. Medical care should be the highest priority but there is no truce, we must intensify prevention and control efforts,” Health spokesman Mi Feng has said.
According to Mi, the number of confirmed new cases in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province and epicenter of the outbreak, has been reduced to single digits for the first time, with just eight new cases in the latest official count. Likewise, the commission has reported that new cases of contagion of the coronavirus in all China added 15 positives in the last 24 hours to the 24 recorded the previous day.
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