14ymedio, Havana, 23 August 2021 — “There is a line of crosses that extends every day and nobody knows how far it will go,” cultural promoter Ronald Suárez posted on his Facebook account, along with several photos of the Pinar del Río cemetery. In the cemetery you can see the accelerated resurgence in covid-19 that afflicts that Cuban province.
This Monday, the people of Pinar del Río confirmed what they had been dreading for days. With 2,042 cases detected the previous day, the province has been at the forefront of infections on the Island, even surpassing the numbers of much more populated provinces such as Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Sancti Spíritus, Camagüey, Holguín and Havana, where the outbreaks have been worrisome.
In the city of Pinar del Río, the number reaches more than a thousand positive patients, despite the fact that the provincial capital has undergone the strictest and most prolonged measures of those implemented throughout the country, to try to contain the pandemic from the first cases detected on the island in March of last year. Among the provisions, notable are that only essential workers are allowed to leave their homes; opening hours have been reduced in state stores; and provincial borders are closed.
In the entire province there are currently 6,560 confirmed active cases, a figure that strains the precarious infrastructure of one of the poorest territories in the country. Five out of every 100 people from Pinar del Río “have contracted the disease since the beginning of the epidemic” and 14,275 in the last 15 days, Suárez pointed out. “An outrage for a territory with just 580,000 inhabitants.”
The province registered seven deaths in the last day, in addition to seven critically ill and eight seriously ill patients, including two pregnant women under 30 years of age. The day before, explains Suárez, the territory had “five fewer criticals and the same number of serious ones. In other words, there are people who died in a matter of hours, without ever appearing in the counts. The disease did not give them time.”
Before Francisco Durán García, National Director of Epidemiology, broadcast today’s report on television, it was already known that “the news for Pinar del Río would not be good, for the times that from my balcony we saw the hearse pass by on the way to the León Cuervo Rubio hospital, “wrote Suárez.
However, the leads in the principal local media Guerrilla hardly seemed to be aware of the situation this Monday. The main news spaces were dedicated to the anniversary of the Federation of Cuban Women, talking about foreign investment in Cuba, and denouncing an illegal exit attempt that ended with the confiscation of a speedboat.
At full speed, the authorities have had to set up new confinement centers. In the municipality of La Palma, the Liberato Domingo Azcuy school has become a makeshift hospital to house 31 children with symptoms of covid-19, and this Sunday 35 health workers from Pinar del Río from the Henry Reeve brigade returned from Matanzas, to face the outbreak of infections in that province.
At full speed, the authorities have had to set up new confinement centers. In the municipality of La Palma, the Liberato Domingo Azcuy school has become a makeshift hospital to house 31 children with symptoms of covid-19, and this Sunday 35 health workers from Pinar del Río from the Henry Reeve brigade returned from Matanzas who had traveled to face the outbreak of infections in that province.
But the pandemic is not the only problem for the people of Pinar del Río. The shortage of basic products has taken a toll in a population that has been required, for months, to present a “mobility credential” to be able to buy the few products that arrive in a rationed way and in dribs and drabs to the province.
The problems in the water supply and the power cuts also affect a region where, strikingly, there were hardly any popular protests on July 11 when the demonstrations spread throughout the island.
“In Viñales we are desperate because of the problems we have with water and this, despite the fact that there are many positive people,” explains Lucía Escalante, by telephone from the place that until just over a year ago was a vibrant tourist center and now is going through a deep crisis. “We had to call the delegate from outside the polyclinic and complain because even in the clinic there was no water to wash the sick hands.”
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