A Train From Havana to Santiago de Cuba Suspected of Bringing Covid-19 Contagion

So far, despite the inquiries, it has not been possible to clearly specify the reason for the arrival of the train in Santiago de Cuba. (Archive / TV)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Santiago de Cuba, 22 August 2020 — Residents of Santiago de Cuba continue to search for answers to an event that causes great concern: the arrival in the city of 463 passengers from Havana, among whom some initially showed symptoms of being infected by coronavirus.

The travelers arrived on a train just before noon on Wednesday, August 19, according to the official journalist Anolvis Cuscó Tarradell on his Facebook page.

Among the passengers, explains Cuscó Tarradell, there were three people with symptoms and two young men, ages 19 and 20, who were in a military unit in Havana before starting the trip. Both were positive in the rapid diagnostic test, but were negative in the subsequent PCR test.

Until now, and despite the inquiries carried out by 14ymedio, it has not been possible to clearly specify why the train went to Santiago de Cuba, who the passengers were, or if they were people stranded in Havana or in other provinces.

One of the travelers recounted her experience on Cuscó Tarradell’s Facebook wall: “I am a passenger on that train, what happened — and that is why we are suffering this sad nightmare — is it was the bungling of some leader,” she claimed. The woman regrets that the boarding was not suspended or that no information was given to customers about the possible risks.

Gudelis Vinent, according to her Facebook profile, is a native of Santiago de Cuba and a resident of that city. In her story she commented that she got on the train at 11 at night in Camagüey and it was already known then that people with suspected covid-19 were traveling, but the new travelers were not warned.

“We were only told: ’Car eight is coming with problems, we have to change the passengers.’ Twice we were changed and we did not know why. The sick people and the passengers of that car stayed in Camagüey. At that time I just wanted to know who was responsible for my being in isolation, and for them to enforce the constitution and charge that person with spreading disease,” said Vinent.

The official journalist’s report also clarifies that all the citizens who traveled, including the crew, were transferred to isolation centers: “None had contact with the population of Santiago de Cuba or the city,” he said.

However, the comments and doubts of the reporter’s followers were immediate: “But what was a train with 400 and more people doing going from Havana to Santiago if supposedly Havana is closed?” Marytere Marzán Regüeiferos asked.

“I am sure that 100% of those who arrived on that train are either from Santiago or Guantánamo, and had been stranded in the capital for days and days, not to mention months. If things are done well, with the evidence and the isolation… there don’t have to be problems,” Jorge Santander, another follower of the page, responded to Marytere.

“It is worse to have a fellow countryman sleeping in a park, a terminal, or you know where. It could happen to anyone, remember that many have to travel to specialized centers in Havana. Let us be in solidarity with ourselves first,” said Santander.

But the same journalist wrote among the comments that he did not know the causes of the arrival of the transport and although he was investigating it, there is no concrete answer on his part.

Regarding this event, Luis Ricardo Manet Lahera, director of the Provincial Center for Hygiene, Epidemiology and Microbiology, commented to the Sierra Maestra newspaper that “all the actions that had to be carried out from the health point of view were carried out, and there was a group of patients who turned out to be suspicious.”

“We did rapid tests on all passengers, including the crew, and of these there were three cases that were initially positive, which later were negative on the PCR test; however, they are still under surveillance, because we have to continue carrying out control actions on the entire population who traveled in that train,” explained Manet Lahera.

Imilce Tamayo experienced of being stranded in Havana and, in the same publication of the journalist Cuscó Tarradell, wrote that she spent almost five months in the capital and was able to travel to Santiago more than 20 days ago.

“I am a responsible person myself, I put myself in isolation for 14 days and asked my relatives not to visit me until my isolation ended. Thank God I did not have any contagion with the other passengers who came on the same bus. All of us who were traveling took hygienic sanitary measures and wore facemasks,” said Imilce.

Last Saturday, August 8, taking into account the epidemiological situation of Havana, Artemisa, Pinar del Río, Mayabeque and Matanzas, various measures came into force aimed at “reducing to the essential minimum mobility between those territories, as well as between these and the rest of the country,” says a note from the Transport Ministry published in Cubadebate.

“A call was made to the entire population, as well as to state entities, to postpone trips that are not essential.” In addition, “the suspension of interprovincial passenger services between these provinces, as well as of these with the rest of the country (national buses, railways, taxis and private porters)” was ordered.

“Anyone who believes that Havana is closed is wrong, people from there come here to Santiago every day… and who doesn’t know that? They don’t come by air,” Yari Castro asked when commenting on the Cuscó Tarradel post.

For her part, Adela Caridad Torres Angulo clarified in the publication that she was in the Santiago terminal waiting for a traveler on the train: “and I can tell you that the police acted in very good faith to protect the population, and the passengers were received by doctors who know how to do their job, exemplary.”


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