Coronavirus in Cuba, What Should You Do?

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Updated April 5, 2020: There are currently 320 cases of Coronavirus in Cuba, 1887 people in observation, eight in critical condition, four in serious, thirteen recovered and eight deaths.  Another 16,306 people are monitored at home.

Cities of Pinar del Rio, Consolacion del Sur and Guanabo are currently on lockdown. No one can enter or leave.

Cuba Travel is No Longer Possible.

Cuba closed its border on Tuesday March 24, 2020. All tourists remaining on the island will be taken to government owned hotels for quarantine. They are offered the same price as the casa particulares they stayed at. All casas are closed on the island.

On March 23rd, the Cuban government announced new measures to combat the spread of Coronavirus in Cuba. The details are to be confirmed but key messages include:

  • Effective on March 24th, tourists are not authorized to leave their private accommodation or hotel.
  • Tourists staying in the region of Vinales, Trinidad and Baracoa are requested to move to hotels close to the nearest airport.
  • Tourists will pay the same amount they were paying at the private house and the government will cover the transportation to the hotel.

Coronavirus in Cuba Facts

  • On March 9th four Italian tourists entered Cuba through the Jose Mart International Airport in Havana.
  • March 10th they were in Trinidad Cuba, 185 miles/300 kilometers southeast of Havana. Respiratory issues flagged the need to test. 
  • March 11th three of the tourists tested positive and have been quarantined at Pedro Kourí Tropical Medicine Institute in Havana.
  • The Cuban Public Health Ministry says its not life threatening and the patients “evolving well”. One of the men, aged 61 had bronchial asthma and passed away. 
  • March 12th a fourth case of Coronavirus was confirmed in Santa Clara Cuba. The patient is Cuban with a wife living in Milan Italy. She entered Cuba on February 24th without symptoms. He developed symptoms on March 8th and both were  admitted to the Villa Clara isolation hospital. He has tested positive but she has not. Both are being monitored and progressing well. 
  • March 14th the Cuban government suspended all public events. Many bars and restaurants followed suit and closed voluntarily. 
  • There are currently 356 people, a mix of Cubans and tourists, held in observation. Although none to date are confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Cuba. 
  • March 16th Cuba reported its 5th case. 
  • March 17th the Minister of Public Health, José Ángel Portal Miranda, reported two new cases, with two Cuban citizens. One is from Camagüey and works on a cruise ship and had arrived March 14th from Italy. The other is from Guanabacoa outside Havana, his daughter returned from Milan, Italy on March 7th and developed symptoms March 10th.
  • March 18th the Ministry announced a new case and the first death. 
    • A 57-year old Canadian entered via Holguin on March 14th and reported symptoms two days later.
  • March 19th five new cases were confirmed:
    • 69-year old Frenchman entered on March 9th and had symptoms on March 16
    • 70-year old man from Northern Italy entered on March 9th had been in contact with the first confirmed cases (Italians in Trinidad)
    • 37-year old Cuban who had been in Rome, entered on March 14 and had symptoms three days later
    • 30-year old Spaniard from Madrid entered on March 13th and went to the hospital on the 17th
    • 81-year old Canadian entered Havana on March 10th and had symptoms a week later
  • March 20th five more cases were confirmed:
    • 25-year old Belgian arrived via Madrid on March 11th and started having symptoms three days later
    • 36-year old Cuban returning from Guyana on March 14th and had symptoms the following day
    • 32-year old Cuban returning from France on March 14th and had symptoms the following day
    • 76-year old Cuban returning from Madrid on March 15th and had symptoms the following day
    • 35-year old Cuban returning from Madrid on March 16th and had symptoms the following day
  • March 21st four more cases were confirmed

On March 11th the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

And that has created pandemonium. Evidenced by all the messages in my inbox from concerned friends and family.

Coronavirus in Latin America

At the beginning of March there were no cases south of the United States. But in the span of ten days things changed quickly.

Gibara Cuba
A few days ago in Gibara, a small fishing village in eastern Cuba.

I Left Cuba

I won’t lie. I felt the immediate sense of panic, wondering if I should make plans to leave.

And then after the initial sense of adrenalin I calmed down and thought about the bigger picture.

I’m a healthy 42-year old woman. There is Coronavirus in Cuba but it’s practically everywhere, including Canada where there are more than 100 confirmed cases. We cannot escape it.

But I decided to go. I left on March 19th. The risk here was still minimal. I could go home and self quarantine for two weeks. 

This visit I spent in Holguin Cuba, which is 15+ hours away from the case in Trinidad with the Italian tourists so it’s unlikely I’ve encountered anyone with it. Santa Clara is also 8 hours away. 

Until my flight I stayed in my casa particular the entire time, only going out with 100% necessary.

Symptoms of Coronavirus

The challenge is that most carriers do not have any symptoms at all. But those affected may experience

  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Pneumonia
  • Difficulty breathing (severe cases)

Should You Travel to Cuba?

Do not travel to Cuba. The risk of further infecting Cubans is too great. If you go to an all-inclusive resort your chances of meeting tourists with Coronavirus is too great.

Airlines are ceasing international travel and you could be stranded in the country.

This is the time to stay home and isolate so that we can flatten the curve.

My Italian friend Claudia wrote this great piece called Please Stop Traveling. At Least For a While that I think better addresses some of the issues. She has another great one on Coronavirus in Italy. 


What About Healthcare in Cuba?

Despite being a country with many challenges keeping a steady supply of goods, Cuban doctors are known throughout the world. At this point I’m not afraid that staying here is jeopardizing my own health.

In fact, doctors were sent to China to monitor the outbreak in Wuhan – more here.

Cuba also has an incredible biotechnology industry and was already familiar with Coronavirus as one of its antiviral medicines is currently being tested in China – more about that here.

And I will continue to update this post with the most recent information on Coronavirus in Cuba. If you have any questions or information to add please let me know in the comments below.

Join the Conversation

  1. Claudia Hector says:

    You are in the safest place to be. The Cubans have, as you mention, appropriate drugs for this virus.

    I hesitate to mention this but there are investigations going on that suggest that there might be a bacterium involved as well as the virus. It may be piggy backing on it or opening the way for it but there is some. evidence that Covid19 can be treated with anti biopics. Nothing proven yet.

  2. lawence gagnon says:

    what “appropriate drugs” does the Cuban medical community have for this virus?
    they have long had the right test for this but I am not aware of what you are claiming here?

  3. You were not 20 hours away from the outbreak. I reckon 4 at most. And for a country that is asking people to make their own masks I think you are over optimistic about their health service

  4. Diana Campbell says:

    Suppose to he going April 5th and getting nervous…

  5. Noah Mizen says:

    I believe that Cuba will get through the Coronavirus even China asked their doctors to help

  6. Thanks for sharing this awesome piece of information. Since corona is considered as a global pandemic, this post is essential for all the people around the world .

  7. Jose Perez says:

    I have family that lives in Cuba, and my dad constantly sends them medicines, there is NO medicine in Cuba for the regular persons.

    The medicines are for persons like you a good paying tourist ( DOLLARS, EUROS) and the government officials.

    The rest is a myth. I have seen pictures of a Cuban hospital!! Full of garbage, bloody sheets…


  8. Sagar Sahay says:

    I was planning a trip to Cuba in April but I am very apprehensive and really not sure what facilities will I be getting if infected.

  9. Hi, thank you for sharing this. I have a trip for Cuba planned for late June…I am thinking about cancel it or postpone. People are telling me not to do so because at that time this situation might be over. I hope so, but I am not sure at this stage. What do you recommend? Thank you

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well you have time to see how things go. If Coronavirus still exists in June there won’t be flights to Cuba so you’ll get a refund. You could hold out a bit to see. Once traveling is safe again there’s no reason not to go.

  10. joseph Vallejo says:

    Cuba’s health system is non existent for the average Cuban citizen (Cubano de a pie).
    If a relative ends up at a hospital, you need to provide your own clean bedsheets and pillows.
    If you are a tourist, or a “Mayimbe” a member of the privileged class you may see different.
    There are no medicines available, unless you have left the country and are able to send or bring in medicines for their relatives. The rest is propaganda from “True believers”
    Good luck going to Cuba!

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