Cuba will again isolate visitors to fight COVID-19

HAVANA (AP) — Cuban authorities said Saturday they will tighten measures against the spread of COVID-19, requiring tourists and others who visit the island to isolate at their own expense for several days until tests for the new coronavirus come out negative.

The announcement by Dr. Francisco Durán, Cuba’s director of epidemiology, came as the country announced 910 new infections of the new virus detected Friday, as well as three additional deaths.

Duran said that as of Feb. 6, arriving tourists and Cubans who live abroad will be sent to hotels at their own expense to wait for the results of a PCR test for the new coronavirus, which will be given on their fifth day in the country. A similar measure was imposed in the spring, and apparently helped stem the spread of the virus.

Cubans returning home from abroad will be housed in other centers at government expense to await test results.

Diplomats and some categories of foreign businesspeople will be allowed to isolate at home.

Cube has recorded 25,674 infections with the new coronavirus and 213 deaths since March.

Cuba had eased restrictions in November, opening airports to tourist and others, but the number of infections detected has risen sharply so far this month.

Civil aviation authorities said Saturday they will reduce flights from the U.S.., Mexico, Panama and the Bahamas. Flights from Nicaragua, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Surinam will remain suspended.

The pandemic has aggravated problems for an economy hit by sanctions imposed under the outgoing U.S. administration of Donald Trump. The country’s GDP fell by 11% last year.

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