On Friday, Cuba announced a pack of measures aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the national territory, which includes border restrictions, and stopping the entry of tourists. A wide set of measures was announced by the Cuban President in the Mesa Redonda (Round Table) national TV and radio program that was aired from the seat of government, the Palace of Revolution.
President Diaz-Canel emphasized that the island’s authorities are working tirelessly to avert the spread of the pandemic, are closely observing the experience of the most affected countries, and are following the protocols issued by the World Health Organization.
Five new cases were confirmed, totaling 21 cases of the coronavirus that have been diagnosed so far.
The Cuban President noted that the National COVID-19 Plan sets three stages, each with particular actions.
He said that Cuba is currently on Phase-1, which is the pre-epidemic phase. Phase-2 would be declared in the presence of limited autochthonous transmission and Phase-3, would entail the peak of the circulation of the virus on the island.
Serenity, realism, objectivity, were the words the President mentioned, while he urged not to give space to panic or excesses.
“Preserving the healthcare of our people requires political will.” Still, he insisted that the country must keep its economic activity.
Prime Minister Manuel Marrero, clarified that Cuba was not closing its borders, but regulating the entry by air or sea, allowing only Cuban nationals and foreigners who work or reside permanently. Regarding to the crew of ships, the Prime Minister said they would not be allowed to touch land, and if they need to do so, they would be submitted to strict surveillance procedures.
“Trade will not be stopped, merchant ships will continue arriving in the country, with the crew limitations mentioned, and cargo plane will also be arriving, and their crews will be isolated and under strict surveillance and medical care if needed,” Marrero said.
The Prime Minister added that there are some 60 thousand foreigners in the country, who are leaving the country at a tune of some 10 thousand a day, and the withdrawal of all the tourists from the island is underway.
Likewise, he said that 30 days after next Tuesday, March 24, the country will be entirely closed to any person who does not reside on the island.
Marrero said that Cuba had informed the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) that airports and ports of the island remain open with the limitations mentioned.
The regulation of the entry of foreigners to the country, the promotion of social distancing to protect people at high risk, self-care, increased active surveillance, the reorganization of trade and other economic measures related to the reorganization of wages, credit and taxes to all economic actors in the country, were among the measures to be implemented by the government of Cuba.
On this regards, Meisi Bolaños Weiss, Minister of Finance and Prices, said that the country’s financial system has been preparing to adopt and update the tax, fiscal and financial measures in the face of the spread of COVID-19. She said that those activities of self-employment closely linked to Tourism that are suspended (by administrative decision, the competent governmental authority, or at the request of the holder), will be exempted from the payment of taxes during the period suspension and the cause that caused it.
In both, self-employed and non-agricultural cooperatives operating in cafes and restaurants will have a 50 per cent reduction in the contribution of monthly tax dues and the corresponding decrease in the payment of the remaining taxes.
As of March 20, 617 people have been admitted to hospitals on the island for epidemiological surveillance.
The new coronavirus is now present in 165 countries around the world, with over 11,000 deaths reported. (Periódico Digital Centroamericano y del Caribe)
Original Sources: Granma Newspaper/ CAN/ Radio Habana Cuba/ Prensa Latina