While Cuba has been hailed as a rare success story in Latin America for its textbook handling of the coronavirus outbreak, with just under 3,000 cases and 88 reported fatalities, the island nation on Monday saw a record surge in new cases.
Cuba reported 93 new coronavirus cases on Monday as a surge of the disease in Havana threatened to stall the re-opening of the country after a partial lockdown began in March.
Most of the cases were in Havana, where a partial lockdown was re-imposed on Monday.
The area has been isolated from the rest of the country where with but a few exceptions no new cases have been reported in more than two months.
Healthcare worker Juan Estevez is among those working to slow the spread by identifying people with symptoms at checkpoints.
“We’re controlling the spread of the virus and trying to reduce the number cases….Healthcare workers are taking people’s temperatures at checkpoints and asking them where they’re going. If they have any symptoms; we conduct an interview.”
At one of those checkpoints, Havana Resident Florentino Batista was turned around by officers, who said he couldn’t proceed without documentation showing he’s negative.
“I had to go to the clinic to have the rapid test done and bring them the document that confirms that the test came back negative.”
In Havana, restaurants, bars and pools are once more closed, public transportation suspended and access to the beach banned, with the hope that the hardline approach and stopping the spread will continue to make the country a beacon of hope, rather than a cautionary tale.