14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana | 19 September 2020 — An outbreak of Covid-19 in the surroundings of The Manduley Polyclinic, in the San Leopoldo neighborhood of Centro Habana, is straining the health situation in a densely populated area with numerous slums. Fourteen positive cases have been detected in the area, and residents fear that the number will grow in the coming hours.
This Saturday morning the area surrounding the Marcio Manduley Polyclinic was abuzz with people and a strong police presence was evident. At the nearby pharmacy, about 50 residents of the area were waiting to buy medicine. There were also long lines to buy food and agricultural products in several nearby streets.
A police car was patrolling the area and calling to passersby to keep their distance, while at the nearby Ideal Market, employees dispatch the food wearing not only masks but also plastic face shields. A group of workers constantly add a chlorine solution to the areas that users might touch.
“All this has also coincided with problems in the water supply,” laments Carmita, a Gervasio Street resident. “We have had problems in my house with the water supply, so no one can maintain proper hygiene.” The woman has two relatives among the patients who have tested positive, and insists that the neighborhood is “a time bomb” due to its hygienic problems.
“In this block we have four tenements and around the polyclinic there are many more slums where people live in crowded conditions and there are also several broken sewer pits on the sidewalks”, she explains to 14ymedio. “This neighborhood has been forgotten for years, the only thing that happens here is bad news: floods, landslides, dengue cases and now the coronavirus.”
This Friday, the Minister of Public Health, José Ángel Portal Miranda, explained that the outbreak in the San Leopoldo neighborhood started with “an operator of the surveillance and vector control campaign who had been a contact with confirmed cases in Old Havana.”
For his part, the city governor, Reinaldo García Zapata, explained that the 14 cases are concentrated in three dwellings located in three blocks belonging to the health area of The Manduley Polyclinic, a health center on San Lázaro Street and a few meters from Havana’s Malecón.
“Three more blocks” were added to the area that was initially under quarantine, where samples have been taken from 219 people suspected of being infected, explained García Zapata in a report broadcast Friday night on national television.
A few blocks above the polyclinic and in the opposite direction to the sea, the fences close an area comprised of San Miguel, San Rafael and San José streets from the corner of these with Lealtad and up to nearby Manrique. A strong police presence guards access to the place where only health personnel, and some employees who sell food for residents who cannot leave the area, can pass.
In the Cuban capital there are currently 131 cluster controls “with reinforcement measures, and they are followed up” according to a report from the official press that also recognized the problems with the water supply that “is solved with fixing the pipes, and the water has already started to be pumped again from Paso Seco supply source,” explains the Tribuna de La Habana.
The increase in positive cases in the city has led the authorities to re-evaluate the transfer of patients to isolation centers. Luis Antonio Torres Iríbar, president of the Provincial Defense Council, asked to review and make proposals so that the contacts of suspected cases are isolated in their own homes, under the supervision of family doctors.
Translated by: Norma Whiting
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