- Title: Cuba brings back doctors to battle COVID crisis straining healthcare
- Date: 11th August 2021
- Summary: HAVANA, CUBA (FILE - JULY 23, 2021) (REUTERS) TRUCKS FILLED WITH DONATIONS OF MEDICAL SUPPLIES CLOSE OF SYRINGES INSIDE DONATION BOXES VARIOUS OF HEALTH MINISTRY'S OFFICERS POSING WITH DONATIONS CLOSE OF STICKER ON DONATION BOX
- Embargoed: 25th August 2021 19:03
- Keywords: Biocufarma Cienfuegos Diaz-Canel Guantanamo Havana PCR coronavirus covid-19 infection
- Location: VARIOUS LOCATIONS, CUBA
- City: VARIOUS LOCATIONS, CUBA
- Country: Cuba
- Topics: Health/Medicine,South America / Central America
- Reuters ID: LVA004EPU3OEF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Cuba is bringing back hundreds of doctors working abroad and converting hotels into isolation centres and hospitals in order to battle a COVID-19 crisis that is overwhelming healthcare and mortuary services in parts of the Caribbean island.
The country, which managed to contain infections for most of last year, is now facing one of the worst outbreaks worldwide, fuelled by the spread of the more-infectious Delta variant, even as it races to vaccinate its population.
Cuba's rolling seven-day average of confirmed COVID-19 cases has surged eightfold within two months to 5,639 per million inhabitants, ten times the world average.
One in five tests are positive, four times the benchmark 5% positivity rate cited by the World Health Organisation.
The seven-day average for confirmed COVID-19 deaths is around 52 per million inhabitants, six times the world average, although the real number could be much higher accounting for potentially undiagnosed cases.
The COVID-19 surge has come amid Cuba's worst economic crisis in decades that had already resulted in medicine shortages and long queues for scarce goods that made implementing lockdowns tricky.
Cuba's government did not reply to a request for comment. It has denounced the United States for tightening sanctions, saying this has also slowed down its vaccine rollout due to the difficulty of acquiring inputs. Critics blame more Cuba's inefficient state-run economy.
Cuba was a COVID-19 success story last year, managing to contain the outbreak, dispatching doctors all over the globe to help and even developing its own vaccines, which it started applying in recent months.
Deaths in Cuba since the start of the pandemic are still only a half of the global average, according to official data. The death toll is rising fast though.
Official data show no more than ten COVID-19 death daily in Guantanamo for those days suggesting underreporting in deaths from the respiratory disease.
So far, a quarter of Cuba's 11.2 million inhabitants have been inoculated with its two most advanced vaccines that officials say have proven more than 90 % effective in phase three trials.
In one bright spot, the case-fatality rate in Havana, where nearly two thirds of the population has now been fully inoculated, was just 0.69 % compared to 0.93% for the rest of the country in the first week of August, according to official data, suggesting the shots are working.
(Production: Rodrigo Gutierrez, Mario Fuentes, Nelson Gonzalez, Nina Lopez)
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