HAVANA (Reuters) – The Cuban government is once again closing schools, public transportation and cultural activities in swaths of the Caribbean island during the worst coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began. Cuba has registered new daily records of infections during the last six days, of which 550 on Wednesday, and has already registered more infections in the first 12 days of 2021 than in the entire previous month. Cuba has 11 million inhabitants and, although it still has only half the world average of daily confirmed cases per capita, 43 cases per million, that is, about a tenth of most of last year, when the authorities were hailed for their successful containment of the virus. “We need to work hard … And we have to close the ranks,” Cuba’s top epidemiologist Francisco Durán said in a daily televised briefing on Wednesday. Officials say travelers from heavily affected countries like the United States who did not follow hygiene protocols like quarantine largely caused the increase. The government has drastically reduced flights from those countries and introduced a requirement to test negative before traveling to Cuba. Critics say it should have required the test as soon as it opened the borders last November, as some neighboring islands did, and its mismanagement of the economy, in addition to US sanctions, is to blame for the long lines outside. from supermarkets complicating social distancing. Cuba has four candidate vaccines in testing and said it expects one of them to be ready to begin vaccinating citizens during the first half of this year, although some Cubans are concerned that it has not announced a backup plan in case. none of them succeed. The government has not said that it is negotiating with any other manufacturer to access the vaccines. He called his first two vaccine candidates Sovereign 1 and 2 – Spanish for “sovereign,” underscoring his quest for self-reliance.
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