Havana declares curfew as COVID-19 surges

HAVANA, Feb. 5th  (Reuters) – A curfew will go into effect for the Cuban capital of Havana on Friday evening, as the Caribbean island struggles with its worst coronavirus surge since the beginning of the pandemic.

State-run media reported that from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. only authorized vehicles and personnel would be allowed outdoors in the city, which has 2.2 million residents.

Cuba managed to contain the virus last year, boasting case rates that were well below average, but it has experienced a surge since the country’s airports began reopening in November. More than 15,000 cases were reported in January, nearly 50% of them in Havana and around five times the monthly figures last year.

The government said a majority of the cases were linked to travellers breaking quarantine, mainly Cubans living abroad. Authorities shuttered schools and dining in Havana and other parts of the country last month and imposed restrictions on flights and travellers to try to stop the spread of the virus.

Cuba has seen an average of about 900 daily COVID-19 cases in February, similar to the international average. A total of 225 people have died in the country since the start of the pandemic.