Cuba Recommends Wearing Masks in Crowds, but Does Not Require Tourists To Take Covid Tests

Image in Havana in August 2020, during the covid-19 pandemic (14ymedio/File)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 9 January 2024 — The Cuban Public Health Ministry this Tuesday recommended that people use masks in crowds and keep to the program of vaccination against covid-19.

The request, issued in an article from the Minister of Public Health, José Ángel Portal Miranda, came out just after the country kept to its position of not requiring covid-19 tests for tourists coming to the island, at the start of the economically-important high tourist season.

Portal Miranda affirmed that his ministry maintains “active” epidemiological and microbiological surveillance in its health system to detect the presence of respiratory viruses and new variants of covid-19.

He stressed that in Cuba “the current increase in these infections is not significant”, although he cited the recent alert issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) in view of the world-wide increase in respiratory diseases caused by covid-19, influenza and other viruses during the last few weeks.

However, he drew attention to the “need to comply with health protection measures, especially in vulnerable groups” during the coldest time of the year, which coincides with the seasonal period of acute respiratory infections.

So far in 2024 the most frequent covid-19 subvariants on the island are XBB 1.5, XBB.1.9 and XBB.1.16, classified by the WHO as being of interest or under surveillance

The health authority pointed out the importance of using masks “in places with high concentrations of people; the need to go to the doctor when respiratory symptoms appear, and to keep the anti-covid-19 vaccination schedule up to date”.

In this regard, he said that as part of the country’s health protocols, vaccination against covid-19 has continued to be carried out, with “special emphasis” on children from two years of age, pregnant women and people identified as vulnerable, who are receiving booster shots.

The Ministry of Public Health (Minsap) reported that as 0f January 5, 90.9% of the population (10,044,217 people) had received the complete schedule of the three Cuban-made anti-covid-19 vaccines: Soberana 02, Soberana Plus and Abdala.

Portal Miranda stated that control of the circulation of the covid-19 virus has been achieved on the island and that in 2023, of the more than 121,800 tests performed, only 2.5% were positive.

He added that in the last two months of 2023 and so far in 2024 the most frequent covid-19 subvariants on the Island are XBB 1.5, XBB.1.9 and XBB.1.16, classified by the WHO as being of concern or under surveillance.

A recent publication by the Ministry of Public Health explains that international travelers “do not have to present any negative test for covid-19” upon arrival on the island and pointed out that only those who present or are detected with respiratory symptoms will undergo a rapid test or PCR sample collection.

Recommendations to visitors include the use of face masks in airplanes and air terminals, as well as in crowds and on public transportation.

Translated by GH


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