Cuba has successfully contained a potential second surge of coronavirus infections and will lift lockdown restrictions for Havana, authorities said Wednesday.
With just one fatality reported for every 100,000 people — compared to more than 2,190 for each 100,000 in the United States — Cuba has fared better than many much more affluent nations thanks to its universal health care system.
Of just over 5,500 infections that have been reported to date, more than 90 percent were detected through aggressive contact tracing, according to Reuters. The country also enforces strict isolation policies for anyone who gets sick, at times placing whole city blocks under quarantine, and punishes social distancing and mask violations with steep fines.
After easing restrictions in June and allowing life on the island to get back to normal, however, Cuba again saw an uptick in cases in August. Most were concentrated in Havana, prompting authorities to shut down schools and public transportation, impose nightly curfews beginning at 7 p.m. and block people from leaving the city. On Wednesday, Havana governor Reinaldo García Zapata said that the measures had helped reduce the city’s infection rate to 0.87 percent, Reuters reported.
Cuba has been deploying its doctors on medical missions to nearly 40 countries during the pandemic, an arrangement that in some cases has generated much-needed funds. Already weakened by U.S. sanctions, the collapse of tourism has left the country facing one of its worst food shortages in decades.