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October Monday

Cuba’s Isla de la Juventud excels at containing COVID-19

NUEVA GERONA, Cuba, Oct 13 (ACN) Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth) stands out in Cuba for its low COVID-19 prevalence, thanks to the effectiveness of containment measures and a tight border surveillance.

Israel Velázquez Batista, municipal director of Public Health, told ACN that the Isle has had 591 cases and, unfortunately, three deaths since April 4, 2020, for a 0.5% case fatality rate.

“The first case reported in the municipality was precisely the virus’s first local victim, which caused great tension within the medical community and increased risk perception among the Isle’s 83,000 plus inhabitants,” he recalled. “At first, the main complication for doctors and paramedics was the fear of contagion and the difficulties to provide care to their patients due to the lack of knowledge about the new coronavirus and the uncertainty of those first months.”

During the clinical-epidemiological crisis in the special municipality, its 4,182-strong health staff worked together with the community to tackle the pandemic. In just over four months, they managed to control the outbreak that turned the Isle into the epicenter of the disease in Cuba.

“Our greatest challenge was to provide the required logistics and care, an exhausting endeavor given the length of the fight against COVID-19, but the lockdown restrictions and surveillance procedures helped contained the virus,” he remarked.

Located in the Gulf of Batabanó, in the western half of the Caribbean Sea, the Isle of Youth saw its way of life change. Now the local population is concerned that the imminent reopening of its borders will cause disruption to the region’s daily life, according to Velázquez Batista.

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