“The pandemic has cost us and had a high impact on our state budget, but we have worked according to a non-negotiable principle: the main treasure is the life of the Cuban people.”
It’s been just over 6 months since Cuba closed it’s borders. Like so many other countries, Cuba responded swiftly and with diligence to the CoVid global pandemic. I was there when it started. I remember it with vivid detail, it was an experience I will never forget. (read more here) I was impressed by how fast they mobilized. Everything changed overnight it seemed. Within days of the first case being discovered, Cuba was on high alert. Doctors and nurses hit the streets, literally knocking on doors to educate the public on how to make their own masks, and how to work together to try to prevent mass infection. Almost overnight clinics popped up in every barrio to monitor the local community and provide medical care and support. It was an amazing thing to witness how the people mobilized and managed the onset of CoVid 19. As a result: Cuba’s reported mortality rate from CoVid is amongst the lowest in the world.
Now Cuba is preparing to attempt a new phase of opening to travelers. The Prime Minister of Cuba, Manuel Marrero reported last week that most of the island would open to international tourism starting the week of October 19. Officials in Cuba say this will be a continuation of a slow opening they have been attempting. It will come with restrictions and controls to attempt to maintain their control of the virus on the island.
The plan was to first open up the northern keys (cayos) and then Varadero beach resort, then to slowly expand the openings and/or allow travelers access to more of the island. Some local on the ground reports say that travel outside of the resorts will be dependant on spending at least 10 -14 days in the hotels and “quarantining” on vacation so to speak, although this has not been officially proclaimed. Travelers will be required to stay in state run hotels, will be closely monitored with regular temperature checks and health checks happening in the hotels, and airports.
Havana,however, is not yet open for tourists or travelers due to recent outbreaks and restrictions to slow the spread down there. For travelers who visit the hotels, contact with the general Cuban populace will also be restricted some to protect everyone.
“Cuba’s universal, community-based healthcare system has contained its outbreak and reduced mortality by hospitalizing all confirmed cases, tracing and isolating their contacts and applying a raft of therapeutic treatments.
Cuba has reported just 11 deaths from Covid-19 per million inhabitants, compared with 203 for the Dominican Republic and 647 for the United States, statistics from Johns Hopkins University show.
The state has, for example, paid for putting 115,000 suspected cases and contacts of confirmed cases at isolation facilities, according to Marrero. Of those, fewer than 5% tested positive for the virus.” (Source-Reuters)
My personal connections on the ground there tell their own stories. Like everywhere else in the entire world, it is hard to trust the accuracy of the reports because CoVid is such a sneaky virus and it is so hard to test and report on every single case. Since there are so many asymptomatic spreaders, and so many who won’t ever be tested, it is also impossible to know what the real numbers are.
The Breath of Cuba Travel wants to recommend to you that you seriously consider your own health, as well as the health of the entire country of Cuban nationals should you choose to travel during these early openings. Please read the guide here on how to travel in Cuba during CoVid 19 before you go and consider what things you might be able to do to help the people now to get through these challenging times. The Cuban Pen Pal Project is a great way to help a Cuban family put food on their table, communicate with their loved ones, and for you to also learn about their culture directly from the people.
We are taking reservations for travel in 2021 and offering consulting and support for any travelers who wish to go for the Holidays, but we are recommending all travelers to be tested before they get on their flights, and to travel with extreme caution and mindfulness to protect themselves and the Cuban people.