New Actions in Central Havana to Contain the Pandemic

HAVANA, May 11th By IPS-Cuba Centro Habana, the most densely populated municipality in Cuba, became, since May 8, the first in the Cuban capital where reinforced measures of social isolation are implemented throughout the territory, due to the high epidemiological risk and a high incidence of COVID-19.

With 152,335 inhabitants in just 3.4 square kilometres, for a population density of 45,360 people per square kilometre, this downtown part of the capital has a deteriorated housing stock, overcrowding and a high concentration of people due to the convergence of large commercial networks in its arteries.

The Havana authorities insist that this is not a quarantine, but rather what they call measures to reinforce social isolation and increase the search for positive cases and epidemiological surveillance, aimed at increasing the low-risk perception in the population, following the model applied during April in the El Carmelo neighborhood in the Vedado district.

The areas of Centro Habana under new restrictions include the neighborhoods of Pueblo Nuevo, Colon, Cayo Hueso and more intensely, in Dragones and Los Sitios.

Reinforced isolation in Centro Habana

Under the new restrictions approved by the Provincial Defense Council, in Centro Habana:

-Streets will remain open so as not to interrupt traffic through the city.  However, only authorized vehicles may park.

-People can go out to work. The Havana authorities emphasize that in the current context, production must be maintained for the needs of the population, import substitutions must be carried out, export production must be carried out when possible.

-The entrance of people from outside the municipality will not be allowed, with some exceptions.

-For the first time, a special identification is introduced for all the homes, which will allow the control of product sales only for residents in the municipality. They can only be carried by adults and will include addresses, family unit and other pertinent information.

-The sales of essential items and food will be brought to the neighbourhoods and guidelines set for the organization of the lines.

-Penalties are increased for those who fail to comply with sanitary measures such as the use of masks, as well as those who transit without justification. In the case of teenage girls, boys, they will be taken to their houses and their parents fined.

-Epidemiological measures are intensified and the sanitary control of health workers, biosecurity and sampling of 100 per cent of the personnel are strengthened.

-Medical treatment and monitoring of vulnerable people in each health area.

-Daily controls at health centres and workplaces.

Isolation in Two More Havana Districts

The reinforcement will also be applied throughout the area known as Luyano Moderno, in the municipality of San Miguel del Padron, where 48,056 people live in precarious conditions, including makeshift settlements.

Likewise, this type of reinforced restrictive measures will be implemented in the neighbourhood around the Latinoamericano baseball stadium in El Cerro municipality with a population of 19,356 people.

“If at any time we can’t let our guard down, it’s right now. Now is when we most need to reinforce all measures,” said Deputy Prime Minister Roberto Morales.

As part of the actions related to epidemiological surveillance, the health authorities will carry out differentiated active investigations in high social risk groups of 12 neighbourhoods in the Cuban capital: Buena Vista, Rampa, Belen, Acosta, Guaicanamar, Alamar Este, Debeche-Nalon, Zamora Coco Solo, Calabazar, Fraternity, Magdalena and San Agustín.

New measures for Havana include recertifying the 599 outbreaks currently open, detecting positive cases of people not showing symptoms still circulating in the streets, where queues for food purchases are frequent.

At this stage, a population intervention study will be carried out with PCR, to determine the incidence of asymptomatic patients in groups in the 15 municipalities of Havana, and surveillance by the Ultra Micro Analytical System (SUMA) will be carried out on vaccinated health workers. with VA-Mengoc-BC in the Plaza de la Revolución and Centro Habana municipalities.

The capital authorities continue to prepare reserve capacities in three hospitals, should they be necessary for the care of COVID-19 patients, and actions to protect health workers are intensifying, of which some 170 have become ill, especially medical and nursing staff in intensive care units.

The strengthened measures include the control of the 93 social institutions of the province and large work centres, and in the latter, strengthen surveillance of fever and respiratory symptoms.

As part of the medical treatment of vulnerable people, the use of the drug Biomodulin T is started in people over 60 years of age in psychiatric hospitals and psycho-pedagogical medical centres, already used in nursing homes and grandparents’ homes.

Likewise, in the last week of May, Biomodulin T + VA-Mengoc will be applied in high-risk populations (over 60 years) in a sample from the municipalities of Cerro, Diez de Octubre, Habana del Este and San Miguel del Padrón.