A man and a health worker, wearing masks, were registered this Thursday while talking on a street in Havana. Photo: EFE/Yander Zamora.

Havana extends restrictive measures against COVID-19 for 15 days

The Cuban authorities extended for another fifteen days the strong restrictive measures decreed to contain the outbreaks of coronavirus in Havana, which were initially going to be in force from September 1 to 15 and will now remain until the 30th of this month. The governor of Havana, Reinaldo García Zapata, said in a television appearance that the decision was made because “it has not been possible to contain the spread of the epidemic in the city,” where there is a worrying spread of infections, with cases in the city’s 15 municipalities. https://oncubanews.com/en/cuba/havana-and-its-harsh-confinement-due-to-covid-19-outbreaks/ Havana, considered the Cuban epicenter of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic last March, had to cancel its reopening earlier this month due to several outbreaks that spread to other regions of the country, which already has a total of 4,593 confirmed patients and 106 deceased. The measures in force since last September 1 in the capital are the most severe applied since the beginning of the pandemic, and include a night curfew between seven in the evening and five in the morning, the paralyzation of public transportation, the increase in distance work and maximum restrictions on entering and leaving the city, which has been cut...

A family in a swimming pool at a resort in Punta Cana (Dominican Republic). Photo: EFE/Francesco Spotorno/Archive.

Tourism in Cuba is suffering “shock” from COVID-19, says expert

Cuba has had a tremendous “shock” due to the drop in tourism, an activity that the coronavirus is going to deal a very hard blow, according to UN Undersecretary General Luis Felipe López-Calva, in an interview with EFE. COVID-19 caused a 15% drop in air traffic in the Caribbean, a disaster for a region in which tourism in some countries accounts for 50% of their economy and which has generated an unpredictable impact in the Dominican Republic and Cuba. The official, also regional director of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for Latin America and the Caribbean, pointed out that the crisis caused by the new coronavirus has had a greater impact on the Caribbean region, since it includes the countries in the world with greater dependence on tourism, which makes it necessary to look for alternative solutions. https://oncubanews.com/en/cuba/first-flight-with-canadian-tourists-arrives-today-at-cayo-coco/ How is COVID-19 affecting the tourism sector in the Caribbean? One of the sectors most affected by this pandemic has been tourism and it has affected many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Costa Rica and Mexico, for example, have a very strong sector in tourism, very affected. For both the Dominican Republic and Cuba, the foreign exchange from tourism...

In recent weeks Havana has been the only Cuban province in phase 0 or “stage of limited transmission” of coronavirus, which is why strong measures were already in force such as the suspension of public transportation, the limitation of access to the province, the closure of most of the services and the mandatory use of the mask outside the home. Photo: Yander Zamora/EFE.

Havana and its harsh confinement due to COVID-19 outbreaks

Havana is subject to the most restrictive measures imposed by the Cuban government for at least 15 days since the beginning of the pandemic, which include a curfew as of 7:00 p.m., the prohibition to leave the city and hefty fines for non-compliance. The authorities affirm that the rebound in coronavirus cases in the capital (they went from reaching zero in mid-July to registering several dozen a day in the second half of August) justify the restrictions that will remain in force in the first half of September. Curfew and fines From seven in the evening to five in the morning the streets must be empty, under surveillance by the police, who will punish anyone who goes out with fines of between 2,000 and 3,000 Cuban pesos (between 80 and 120 dollars), a high amount in a country where the average state salary does not reach 45 dollars. In the case of children, the elderly and people with disabilities, they may not go out at any time; the use of recreational and sports areas will also be restricted, alcoholic beverages can’t be consumed in public places, and no kind of parties will be allowed. https://oncubanews.com/cuba/gobierno-de-la-habana-endurece-sanciones-para-frenar-contagios-de-coronavirus/ Likewise, entry and exit to...

Cuban pioneers meet again when they return to school. Photo: cubadebate.cu

The atypical return to the classrooms in Cuba

Except for Havana―the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic on the island―and a few other towns, Cuba returned to the classrooms this Tuesday amid a second wave of coronavirus infections after more than six months of an unprecedented early closure. With a mandatory mask and received by health workers at the entrance, hundreds of thousands of students returned to schools in central and eastern Cuba this Tuesday. This atypical “back to school” also includes some western territories, where most of the active cases of the virus are concentrated. https://twitter.com/CubaMined/status/1300841463652249601?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1300841463652249601%7Ctwgr%5E&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Foncubanews.com%2Fcuba%2Fla-atipica-vuelta-a-las-aulas-en-cuba%2F The recent outbreaks of coronavirus will keep some 355,000 students from Havana at home, but also from six towns in Pinar del Río, Artemisa, Matanzas (west) and Villa Clara (center) with local transmission of the disease. The capital’s universities will not reopen their doors until the health situation improves in the city, under new restrictive measures as of this Tuesday to try to control the coronavirus outbreaks in its fifteen municipalities. The pandemic, with already 4,065 positive cases and 95 dead, has achieved what decades of the U.S. embargo and economic crisis have not been able to do: traditional massive parades, religious celebrations and schools have been closed, an alternative to which...

Cuban doctors in Venezuela. Photo: elestimulo.com / Archive.

Cuba sends a new team to Venezuela to fight COVID-19

Help us keep OnCuba alive Cuba sent a new health team of 212 doctors to Venezuela. They will join the island's health professionals who support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in that South American country. "A new team of 212 doctors from #Cuba will support our brothers, the people and government of #Venezuela, in the confrontation with # COVID19," Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez wrote on Twitter this Monday. The head of Cuban diplomacy added that the island's health professionals who arrived in Caracas yesterday “will reinforce the work of the ‘Barrio Adentro’ mission. Solidarity and cooperation: bases of this joint effort”. https://twitter.com/BrunoRguezP/status/1295412422380052483?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1295412422380052483%7Ctwgr%5E&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Foncubanews.com%2Fcuba%2Fcuba-envia-nueva-brigada-a-venezuela-para-enfrentar-la-covid-19%2F This new group of doctors is part of the international contingent "Henry Reeve" who has traveled abroad to combat the pandemic since March, and who is part of the 1,000 doctors expected to go to work in Venezuela this year to join the mission "Barrio Adentro”, as reported by state media. A specialized technical delegation traveled to Venezuela last March, after the detection of the first positive cases of SARS-CoV-2, to guide the 20,000 Cuban collaborators who provide service in that country; recalls the Cuban News Agency (ACN). ACN also points out that Cuban doctors in...

A woman jogs in Havana, wearing a mask as a protection measure against the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez

Study Finds Viruses Can Spread Through Dust

Help us keep OnCuba alive Virus particles usually spread on the air through dust, fibers, and other microscopic particles, according to an investigation carried out by the University of California at Davis (United States) and published in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday. The findings have important implications for understanding how flu and the new coronavirus are transmitted. The flu virus is thought to be spread indirectly from the droplets that someone breathes out or through objects called fomites, such as doorknobs or used tissues. However, little was known about which forms of infection are the most important until now, and, depending on the type of virus (flu or coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV2), the form of infection may be different. William Ristenpart, Chemical Engineering professor at the University of California, noted that airborne transmission was previously thought to occur due to respiratory droplets emitted by coughing, sneezing, or talking. That is why transmission through the dust "opens up entirely new areas of research and has profound implications for the way laboratory experiments and epidemiological investigations of outbreaks are interpreted". The research also studied whether small non-respiratory particles called "aerosol fomites" could carry the flu virus among guinea pigs. "It is...

The ABCD project is the largest study on adolescent brain development. Photo: news.fiu.edu.

Researcher of Cuban-origin leads a study on brain development in adolescents

Help us keep OnCuba alive "All brains are different", says to EFE Raúl González, one of the main researchers of a project on brain development in adolescence. The research has an object of study of almost 12,000 American children, and it will last at least 10 years. The study, known by the acronym ABCD (Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development), began in 2015. It has just obtained the necessary funds to continue at least until the minors have reached the age of 20. González was born in Cuba in 1975, and he arrived in the United States at the age of five. Now, he leads a team of 14 researchers from Florida International University (FIU) assigned for the ABCD project. Undated photograph provided by the International University of Florida that shows Professor Raúl González. Photo: International University of Florida / EFE. In an interview with Efe, he highlights the enormous possibilities that have been opened for science with this unique project, which includes the participation of institutions from all over the United States, in addition to FIU. 140 terabytes of data The National Institutes of Health have now awarded 290 million dollars (about 244 million euros) to guarantee...

GM maize. Photo: leisa-al.org

Cuba opens door to GM crops amid food crisis

“We’re not saying that (transgenic technology) is the only way, but that it is one more alternative, a complement to conventional agriculture, and its link with the moment the country is going through is very important,” said Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Environment Armando Rodríguez.

Photo: NARONG SANGNAK/EFE/EPA/Archive

Russia could have a COVID-19 vaccine on the market in less than three months.

Help us keep OnCuba alive Russia aims to have on the market the first COVID-19 vaccine before October, director general of the Russian Fund of Direct Investments, Kirill Dmitriev, announced this Thursday. “Yesterday we successfully completed the first phase of the clinical trials of the vaccine developed by the Gamalei Institute and we hope to finish the second phase on August 3, then we will immediately launch the third phase, and not only in Russia, but in a series of other countries,” Dmitriev said at a teleconference press conference. He added that scientists hope to soon have regulatory approval for the massive use of the vaccine “in August or September” so that it can be on the market before October. According to the official, the Russian vaccine will be “unique” because it is the first in the world to be tested on animals―hamsters―infected with a fatal dose of the virus after receiving the vaccine and they did not get sick. “Naturally, there is still a long way to go to show that effect in humans at various stages,” said Dmitriev, who added that he has already received a dose of the Russian experimental vaccine because he is convinced of its...

WHO is optimistic about development of COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: elpais.com.co

United Arab Emirates tests two COVID-19 vaccines with China on 15,000 volunteers

Help us keep OnCuba alive here The Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced this Monday that it has started the third phase of clinical trials of two coronavirus vaccines that it is researching in collaboration with China, a process for which they have more than 15,000 volunteers. “We have more than 15,000 volunteers to carry out the tests and we will guarantee the best scientific standards for medical studies, and if the safety and efficacy of the vaccine is proven during this phase, the test will be considered successful,” Emirati Minister of Health Abdul Rahman Mohammed Al Owais said in a press conference. Al Owais also pledged to ensure the safety of the group of volunteers who will test the two vaccines, both in their third phase of testing by the Chinese state pharmaceutical company Sinopharm and the Emirati artificial intelligence company Group 42. China had already announced that it was testing in the Emirates a vaccine jointly developed by the Wuhan Institutes of Biological Products and of Virology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. https://oncubanews.com/coronavirus/prueban-en-varios-continentes-vacunas-contra-el-nuevo-coronavirus/ A month ago, the Wuhan Biological Products Institute, affiliated with Sinopharm, announced that the vaccine had not shown any serious side effects...

The all-inclusive Paradisus Río de Oro Hotel is located on Esmeralda Beach, 5 km from Guardalavaca, Holguín. Photo: bthetravelbrand.com

Spanish judge dismisses lawsuit against Meliá over land in Cuba

Help us keep OnCuba alive A court in Palma de Mallorca has dismissed Meliá Hoteles’ claim regarding its dispute with the Cuban Sánchez Hill family, former owners of expropriated land in Cuba, where the Spanish company operates two state-owned hotels, and continues the litigation in Spain. The heirs of Rafael Lucas Sánchez Hill, who owned the Santa Lucía sugar estate, expropriated by the Cuban government, sued Meliá before Spanish civil justice to obtain compensation for the use of a property that they consider to have been taken from them illegitimately. The Paradisus Río de Oro and Sol Río de Luna y Mares hotel complexes are built on these lands, in the province of Holguín. These facilities are owned by the state-owned company Gaviota and managed by Meliá Hotels International. Meliá asked the judge to refer a preliminary question to the Court of Justice of the European Union, arguing that the lawsuit should be framed within Community law, an end that has now been rejected by the court, which initially shelved the case. The judge complied with the request made by Meliá and the prosecution, which alleged lack of jurisdiction and international judicial competence, but had to retake it at the...

Photo: república.com

U.S. government sanctions Amazon for selling to Cuban embassy

Help us keep OnCuba alive Amazon and the United States Government reached an agreement this Wednesday that the company will pay 134,523 dollars as a penalty for having bypassed the prohibitions on maintaining commercial ties with various countries and diplomatic entities, including the Cuban embassy. The company based in Seattle, the United States, provided its services and sold its products to people who were in countries or regions with which the government prohibits maintaining commercial ties without prior authorization, or with people employed by embassies of these countries. According to a Department of the Treasury release, Amazon sold to individuals in Iran, Syria and Crimea (annexed by Russia) and to others who were employed by the embassies of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria, despite such operations being prohibited with all of them. Given these violations of the law, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (dependent on the Treasury) and the firm that Jeff Bezos leads started conversations that finally resulted this Wednesday in the agreement by which Amazon will pay the government 134,523 dollars. https://oncubanews.com/en/cuba-usa/lawsuit-against-amazon-under-helms-burton-act-dismissed/ According to what the Treasury has pointed out, Amazon’s sales to these individuals would not have occurred with the clear intention of breaking...

The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom. Photo: EFE/EPA/FABRICE COFFRINI/Archive

Under pressure from the U.S., the WHO creates a commission to review its performance against COVID-19

Help us keep OnCuba alive The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced today the creation of an independent commission to review the organization’s performance during the current pandemic. The announcement comes two days after the U.S. notified its withdrawal from the body because of what it considers to be alleged malpractice. The commission, Tedros said in a public appearance announced just a few minutes in advance, will be chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President and Nobel Peace Prize Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. https://twitter.com/WHO/status/1281184675554361345?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1281184735524503557%7Ctwgr%5E&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Foncubanews.com%2Fmundo%2Fpresionada-por-eeuu-la-oms-crea-comision-para-revisar-desempeno-contra-la-covid-19%2F Tedros, who proposed a meeting of the WHO Executive Committee in September to discuss the panel’s progress, said that it was time to reflect on what the organization had done and to look for new ways to collaborate. Led by Clark and Johnson Sirleaf, along with other policy makers and experts they select, the panel will seek to understand what happened, give honest advice and help see what can be done to prevent the current tragedy from happening again in the future, indicated the Ethiopian epidemiologist. The two co-chairs declared after the announcement that the entrusted work constitutes “a complex challenge,” in which, in the...

DeLaurentis during the opening of the United States Embassy in Cuba. Photo: Council on Hemispheric Affairs

U.S. diplomat says Trump’s approach to Cuba is feckless

Help us keep OnCuba alive here Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the U.S. diplomat who supervised the Barack Obama administration (2009-2017) normalization process of relations with Cuba, pointed out that the current policy towards the island is “feckless” and based on “domestic politics.” DeLaurentis regretted this Tuesday in an editorial published in the Miami Herald that the Donald Trump administration is deporting Cubans seeking asylum in the United States, limiting the ability of Cuban-Americans to send remittances to the island and restricting trade opportunities and travel. https://oncubanews.com/en/cuba-usa/u-s-deports-119-cubans-the-second-group-during-trump-administration/ “The administration’s hypocrisy is breathtaking,” wrote the diplomat, who led the U.S. legation in Cuba between 2014 and 2017. He criticized that those who direct the “maximum pressure” policy towards Cuba know it will not lead to a regime change, that rather “it strengthens Cuba’s (and Iran’s) hand in Venezuela, with Russia and China occupying the vacuum we left behind.” He regretted that “they nevertheless continue down this path, trying to manipulate an important political bloc understandably frustrated and impatient for change on the island they love.” DeLaurentis was a key actor in the bilateral rapprochement process initiated in December 2014 by former President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro, which took a complete turn under...

View of Havana covered by the dust cloud from the Sahara, on Thursday June 25, 2020. Photo: Yander Zamora/EFE.

Sahara dust cloud a respite for Cuba, but keeps thermometers red

Help us keep OnCuba alive The large Sahara dust cloud affecting the Caribbean started dissipating slowly this Thursday over Cuba, but its influence continues preventing rains and is raising the temperature on the island, which has registered possible all-time records for June. The phenomenon, considered the largest in recent decades, has already covered the entire island, although it is expected that in the next few hours the concentration of dust will decrease and humidity will increase, the Cuban Institute of Meteorology (INSMET) reported. The INSMET forecasted, in addition, that the little cloudiness in general and the high temperatures will be maintained. The east and center of the country have been the most affected. Images published in the local press and on social networks show milky-hued skies instead of the usual blue, due to the high concentration of particles suspended in the atmosphere. The province of Guantánamo, in the easternmost part of the country, is the one that has felt the most harmful effects of the cloud, with a record of 37.4 degrees Celsius, unusual for this time of the year. The INSMET pointed out that 30.2 degrees were reached yesterday in Santiago de Cuba. In that eastern capital, dust limited...

Cayo Guillermo. Photo: melia.com

Cuba to open to foreign tourism on July 1, but only in its keys

Help us keep OnCuba alive here Cuba will reopen operations to international tourism in several of its nearby keys as of next July 1 within the progressive post-COVID-19 plan of de-escalation that started this Thursday in all the island’s territories, except for the provinces of Havana and Matanzas. The Cuban government announced last week the launch of a recovery process―which in its first stage includes three phases―after declaring the coronavirus pandemic controlled in the country, currently without active cases in 13 of its 15 provinces and in the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud. The reopening of tourism, one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic in Cuba, in the first phase will be only for the local market, with the application of a series of measures and hygienic-sanitary protocols, as explained by Minister of Tourism Juan Carlos García Granda in a television appearance. https://oncubanews.com/en/cuba/coronavirus-tomorrow-cuba-starts-its-de-escalation-except-for-havana-and-matanzas/ Operations for foreign visitors will begin on July 1―in the second phase of the de-escalation―and as announced by the Cuban minister of tourism, as of this Thursday tourism agencies will be able to start marketing visits to the tourist destinations of Cayo Cruz, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Largo and Cayo Santa María....

Photo: Yander Zamora/EFE

Coronavirus: tomorrow Cuba starts its de-escalation, except for Havana and Matanzas

Help us keep OnCuba alive here Cuba will start tomorrow, Thursday 18, its progressive reopening plan after the coronavirus epidemic, except in the territories of Havana and Matanzas, the only ones in the country that still report cases of the disease, as announced this Tuesday by Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero. The first of the three phases that make up the “post-COVID-19 recovery stage will take effect after analyzing health indicators such as the incidence rate per inhabitant and the number of active cases in each province,” Marrero said in a state television report. https://twitter.com/DiazCanelB/status/1273215952189116417 Cuba, which closed its borders on April 2, but at no time has decreed mandatory confinement, to date has 2,273 confirmed COVID-19 infections and 84 deaths, with a recovery rate of 87.8% and 193 active cases of the disease at this time, the majority in the capital (154). “We are asking the population for the maximum collaboration in the need to not lower their guard, maintain physical distance and sanitary measures in order to start this gradual transition to normality, minimizing the risks,” said the prime minister in a meeting presided over by President Miguel Díaz-Canel. The government recently declared the coronavirus epidemic under control...

Cuban doctors wave Cuban and Italian flags after their arrival in Havana from Europe this Monday. Photo: Yamil Lage/EFE

Medical brigade that fought the pandemic in Lombardy arrives in Cuba

Help us keep OnCuba alive here A brigade of Cuban doctors who participated for more than two months in the fight against COVID-19 in Lombardy, the region of Italy most affected by the pandemic, returned Monday to Havana, where Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel welcomed them through a television broadcast they saw at the airport. The 52-member health brigade which is part of the Henry Reeve internationalist contingent ―specialized in disasters and serious epidemics―was the first to leave Cuba to assist in controlling the pandemic at the request of the Italian authorities. https://twitter.com/DiazCanelB/status/1270140921116594184 The reception of the brigade of 36 doctors, 15 nurses and a logistics specialist at José Martí airport in Havana had extensive media coverage in the Caribbean country, although it was marked by strict biosecurity measures according to established protocols. The reception President Miguel Díaz-Canel, accompanied by Prime Minister Manuel Marrero, Public Health Minister José Ángel Portal, and other high government representatives, participated through a video appearance in the official ceremony welcoming the medical brigade―broadcast live on state television. In his message, the Cuban president highlighted the “example” and the “intense, risky and heroic” work carried out by the doctors, as well as the “deep rejoicing” for their...

A brigade of 96 doctors and 198 nursing graduates traveled to Kuwait on Thursday. Photo: @MINSAPCuba/Twitter.

Cuba sends medical brigades to Kuwait and Guinea Conakry

Help us keep OnCuba alive here More than 300 Cuban health workers traveled this Thursday to Kuwait and the Republic of Guinea Conakry to assist in the control of COVID-19 in those countries. The two groups, mostly female, are made up of specialists with experience in other missions outside the island as part of the Henry Reeve international medical contingent. From Havana, 21 health workers (11 doctors and 10 nurses) left for Guinea Conakry, a country where Cubans already fought Ebola between 2014 and 2016, and with which Cuba has several cooperation agreements. https://twitter.com/BrunoRguezP/status/1268742898092314624 Another 96 doctors and 198 nursing graduates will join the 36 collaborators already working in Kuwait, specified the state-run Agencia Cubana de Noticias news agency. “Cuba, without neglecting the protection of its people, despite the fierce U.S. blockade and the dirty campaign to discredit the altruism of its medical cooperation, has not ceased in its effort to support the world,” First Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade and Investment Ana Teresita González said at one of the farewells. These are the 33rd and 34th brigades of the Henry Reeve contingent that have left from Cuba to help control the COVID-19 in response to requests from several governments....

The Cuban ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Roberto Blanco, thanked the solidarity aid. Photo: elcorreo.ae

United Arab Emirates sends medical aid to Cuba

Help us keep OnCuba alive The government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) sent an airplane with eight tons of medical supplies to Cuba this Thursday, to help the task of doctors and health personnel against the coronavirus pandemic. “By sending aid, the UAE authorities are sending a message of support and solidarity with Cuba and its front-line workers, many of whom have volunteered to fight the virus in other countries,” said the Emirati ambassador in Havana, Bader Abdulla Saeed Almatroshi. In statements reported by the official Emirati WAM news agency, the diplomat applauded the “courage and determination” of these medical professionals. https://twitter.com/UAEAid/status/1268483103280058368 In the past five years, the Arab country has sent 12 million dollars’ worth of aid to Cuba, while during the coronavirus crisis it has delivered more than 700 tons of supplies to some 62 countries, according to WAM. According to the latest data from the World Health Organization, Cuba has so far registered 2,092 cases of coronavirus and 83 deaths, well below the 35,788 infections and 269 deaths recorded in the Emirates. The Cuban government has consistently denounced the difficulties caused by the U.S. “blockade” for the arrival of aid and donations sent by third countries,...

Members of the Cuban medical brigade in Lombardy, Italy, in the farewell ceremony after completing their work in the fight against COVID-19. Photo: Cubadebate.

Cuban doctors are bid farewell with Lombardy’s applause

The brigade of Cuban doctors and nurses who arrived in Italy to collaborate in the fight against the coronavirus ended their mission this Saturday in the town of Crema (in northern Italy) and was bid farewell to the applause of neighbors and authorities. “We were shipwrecked and you succored us without asking us our name or origin. After months of mourning, anguish and doubts, now we see the light,” said Stefania Bonaldi, mayor of the municipality of Crema, in the region of Lombardy, the most affected by the virus in the European country. The brigade, belonging to the Henry Reeve medical contingent, with 37 doctors and 15 nurses, had arrived in the town on March 22 to help in the battle against the pandemic in a field hospital installed in the municipality at the beginning of the crisis and which will start being dismantled this Monday. In these two months they have collaborated in the Cream Intensive Care units and the radiology, pulmonology and pharmacy departments. The Cuban health workers were bid farewell with a ceremony of gratitude in the central plaza of the cathedral of Crema and with the applause and cheers from neighbors and local and regional authorities....

A sign announces the closure of the beach this May 14, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida. Photo: Ivonne Malaver/EFE.

Miami-Dade and Broward will also start their post-COVID-19 reopening

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that Miami-Dade and Broward, the two counties most affected by COVID-19 in the state, which already has more than 43,000 cases, will enter phase one of the economic reopening next Monday, May 18. DeSantis said it is a “small but important step” for both counties that in terms of the coronavirus have faced greater and different “challenges” than other areas of Florida due to their intense tourist activity. The governor mentioned the influx of cruise ships and planes with people from other parts of the country and the world, as well as the celebration of the Superbowl, the football finals, last February as reasons why the situation of the coronavirus epidemic is worse here than in the other Florida counties. Phase one means that most nonessential businesses and offices will be able to open their doors on Monday following special security protocols coming from the recommendations of health experts. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez announced at a press conference with DeSantis and Broward Mayor Dale Holness that bars, spas, gyms, cinemas, beaches, pools, tattoo and massage parlors will not be able to open yet. Health authorities confirmed 808 new cases and 48 more deaths from...

The Cuban drug Itolizumab used in the treatment of COVID-19. Photo: Courtesy of CIM/Granma.

Cuba uses monoclonal antibody to control “cytokine storm” in COVID-19 patients

Cuba is using the humanized monoclonal antibody Itolizumab within the COVID-19 protocol for patients’ medical care to stop the so-called “cytokine storm,” an uncontrolled reaction of the immune system that can have fatal consequences. The drug, which is commonly used to treat other conditions such as psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, has been used in 70 patients from nine Cuban hospitals, the director of Clinical Investigations of Cuba’s Molecular Immunology Center (CIM), Tania Crombet, affirmed to the daily Granma. “It has been used in patients classified as critical, serious and care, with a high risk of aggravation. The best results have been seen in critically and seriously ill patients,” assured the doctor. Scientific studies have linked this “cytokine storm” with hyper inflammation and the appearance of acute respiratory failure syndrome or adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which has been described as the leading cause of COVID-19 mortality. The director of Clinical Investigations of the CIM, belonging to the BioCubaFarma Business Group, explained in the interview that the drug “can reduce the secretion of a group of mediators of the inflammation, known as pro-inflammatory cytokines.” This, according to the specialist, would ultimately allow “stopping in time” the consequences of the cytokine storm,...

Photo: Getty Images/Archive.

Cuban scientists adapt diagnostic test to detect COVID-19

Cuban scientists adapted “in record time” a diagnostic system already existing in the country so that it can identify cases of COVID-19 based on antibodies, the state-run BioCubafarma group producer of medicaments reported this Thursday. Designed by researchers from Havana’s Immunoassay Center (CIE), the diagnostic test uses the ELISA technique, which identifies small particles and germs that cause disease, and is based on SUMA technology (Ultra Micro Analytical System), produced by the CIE during the 1980s. SUMA is an advanced Cuban diagnostic technique that uses small amounts of samples and saves reagents. In the country it is applied above all in the Neonatal Screening, Blood Certification and Epidemiological Surveillance programs. https://www.facebook.com/BioCubaFarma/posts/2277742392521522 Thanks to this technology, Cuba became the second country in the Americas to have a complete diagnosis and care program for congenital hypothyroidism. It is currently used in several countries, including Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador and China. However, this test must still complete the established protocol for its production and large-scale application in the detection of the coronavirus. This was explained by Rebeca González, institutional communicator of the CIE, who told the Agencia Cubana de Noticias news agency that after completing the development stage, field tests...

Cuba is developing a version of the antiretroviral Kaletra for use in COVID-19 patients. Photo: @medsolcuba/Twitter

Cuba developing its own version of an antiretroviral for use in coronavirus patients

Cuba is developing, with “satisfactory” preliminary results, its own version of the antiviral Kaletra, with the aim of eliminating its import and guaranteeing a stable supply of the drug, created to treat HIV-AIDS and now used in COVID-19 patients. The Cuban retroviral prototype, a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir, is still “in the development stage,” although the first tests have already yielded “satisfactory preliminary results,” one of the leaders of the research at the state MedSol laboratories said to the Agencia Cubana de Noticias news agency. “Three pilot batches have already been prepared, the physical chemical analysis has been carried out and then the comparison will be made with the leading product,” explained Adalberto Izquierdo, head of the research and development group of the Novatec enterprise, belonging to MedSol. https://oncubanews.com/en/cuba/cuba-has-medicines-for-thousands-of-possible-cases-of-covid-19/ The successful production of the antiretroviral in Cuba would save the island money and time, under the restrictions of the United States embargo, which hinders the acquisition of goods abroad, including medicines and medical devices that have more than 10% U.S. components. According to Cuban specialists, this version of the drug could “even be exported” in the long term. However, to produce it, Cuba must first overcome several obstacles, including...

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