Cuban President Miguel Díaz Canel announced the measure yesterday during the “Mesa Redonda” television program, where official information is transmitted to Cubans residing on the island.
Initially, the Cuban government had made the decision to leave the borders open, in order to continue receiving tourists from all over the world, including from countries affected by the Coronavirus, but this decision changed yesterday thanks to the pressure exerted by Cubans on social networks, demanding that the president close the airports.
On the other hand, international tourism was also declining on the island, as in order to help combat the spread of COVID-19, countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Germany have banned their residents from traveling.
The measure will take effect on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, and will have an initial term of one month. Basically, it prohibits entry to Cuban territory to all tourists and leaves the border open only to Cubans residing abroad, foreigners with a residence permit in Cuba and commercial activities.
The groups that will be able to return to Cuba will undergo a 14-day quarantine to guarantee their well-being and avoid further contagion in the country.
The president pointed out that in the coming days the island authorities will have to manage the repatriation of more than 60,000 tourists who are still in Cuban territory. Then, the authorities would be able to intensify sanitary measures. He also insisted on the seriousness of the situation and mentioned that developed countries have had to make a maximum effort to contain the disease.
Although the measure to close schools in Cuba has not yet been taken,
Díaz Canel called on the population to put social distancing into practice and to avoid crowds in public areas, as well as avoiding public transport at peak times. He also noted that the possibility of working from home is being evaluated.
However, the president made it clear that the government is not ruling out the implementation of other more drastic measures, depending on the evolution of the situation in the country. For their part, many Cubans on and off the island begin to put pressure on social networks again, but this time requesting the closure of schools, and strongly criticize the decision taken by the authorities to close only the schools of children of foreigners in the country.
The television space was also used to communicate that the total number of cases with COVID-19 in Cuba had increased to 21, and only one patient has died. The Minister of Public Health, José Ángel Portal, declared that of the 20 cases that Cuba currently has with Coronavirus, all have a stable recovery and none have so far been life-threatening.
In addition to infected people, there are still 716 patients hospitalized in Cuba and waiting for tests to be carried out in order to determine if they are positive for COVID-19, and more than 26,000 people are under surveillance since, although they do not present symptoms, they are considered as high risk subjects.