‘Something is Wrong in the Laboratories’ of Cuba, Says Russian Consul in Defense of Her Compatriots

“Freedom! We are prisoners in Cuba of Iberostar [tourist company]”, cry the Russian tourists in quarantine. (Katerina Tyuleneva / Instagram)
14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, July 5, 2021 — Daily reports of the pandemic continue to pile up records in Cuba – 21 deaths*, the highest number since the start of the health crisis in March 2020 – and include a growing number of Russian tourists, who express their outrage on social media over alleged grievances.

Cuba is experiencing a phase of community-wide transmission of the disease, with 3,075 new cases this Monday, after the record of daily infections (3,519) was broken on Sunday for the third consecutive day. The Island has accumulated 207,322 sick and 1,372 dead so far.

Of the total infections this Monday, diagnosed by processing 38,828 PCR tests, 2,999 were native cases and 79 had a foreign source of infection.

In the most recent days, imported cases have risen. More than 150 Russian tourists who arrived in Varadero in the last week are isolated in their hotels after testing positive for COVID-19.

Russia’s Consul General in Havana, Nana Mgeladze, explained to Sputnik that on one of the flights that arrived on June 30, 33 people tested positive, including crew members. In addition, another 130 Russian nationals who entered before June 29 remain in quarantine, including a man who experienced health complications and was transferred to a hospital in Havana.

Many of the travelers have expressed their displeasure on social networks, claiming that they had been vaccinated and flew to the island with negative PCR results from tests they took the day before flying. “Imagine the degree of outrage of our tourists, who have been rushed through, with no explanation why. The Cubans don’t comment on those results. One could come to the conclusion that something is wrong in the laboratories,” said Mgeladze.

On her Instagram account, the Russian Katerina Tyuleneva published a video in which you can see more than a dozen tourists, including children, who have been confined in a hotel. The woman warns other potential travelers to “think it over a hundred times” before arranging a vacation on the island. She also laments the little support received from consular officials of her country.

“Does the Russian Embassy in Cuba have no authority nor capacity to help the Russians?” asks a commenter in the Tyuleneva post. “Intervene in the situation! This is arbitrariness!” Another person warns that “officials freeze” and recommends that tourists take their complaint “to the media.”

“All that money, those lost vacation days, and frayed nerves, but in the end everything goes down the drain,” responds another commentator who hopes that “all the misunderstanding will be resolved shortly and they can enjoy at least a few days of vacation.”

The tourists will have to stay in their rooms and they are undergoing second and third tests “depending on the day of their arrival,” added Mgeladze.

Last week, local employees of tourist facilities in Varadero complained to this newspaper about the attitude of the Russians, who don’t wear masks or comply with safety measures.

Despite this, the resort tourist who has been restricted is not the foreigner but the Cuban national, and those affected denounce a new apartheid.

Currently the worst health situation in the country is in Matanzas, which in the last week has reported 5,831 sick. The provincial capital, and Cárdenas, Colón, Limonar, Los Arabos and Jagüey Grande, are the six municipalities with the highest rate of infections, with an incidence of 569 per 100,000 inhabitants, and the most positive cases.

The country, with the average registered in the last week, is ranked 15th by nations worldwide with the most daily confirmed cases and is fifth in Latin America. “Its average is higher than that reported for South America, the most difficult region in the world at the moment,” Amilcar Perez Rivero, a Cuban scientist living in Brazil,  posted on his Twitter account. “The situation is serious.”

*Translator’s note: Between the time of this article and its translation, the numbers have continued to rise.

Translated by Tomás A.


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