Cuba announces dispatch of medical specialists to Mexico

Cuba announced on Tuesday they will dispatch medical specialists to Mexico as part of an island strategy to support other nations to face the new coronavirus, and at a time when regional health authorities warn that Latin America is still a few weeks away from seeing spikes.

The island’s director of epidemiology, Francisco Durán, said that “10 health collaborators” traveled to Mexico, but without specifying the exact destination of these or their specialties. The announcement came a day after the Mexican president said they were in talks, although he would only ask for Cuban support in case his health system was overwhelmed.

Mexico, Cuba’s largest Latin American neighbor, was one of the few friendly governments that in these years was not part of the cooperation programs of medical specialists that the island has with dozens of other countries and that the United States sought to discredit.

Some 600 doctors, nurses and laboratory technicians have urgently left 15 countries in the last two weeks, including Andorra, Italy, Venezuela and Nicaragua in the face of the COVD-19 pandemic. Before this, thousands more were already in some 60 countries with which the island signed long-term agreements to serve poor sectors.

Already in the midst of the coronavirus crisis in various parts of the world, the United States tried in late March to discourage governments from asking Cuba for the support of their doctors. Washington maintains sanctions against Havana, pressing for a change in its political model.

Cuban doctors gained fame during the Ebola outbreak in Africa in 2014 and the prestige they raised was decisive in the diplomatic approach promoted by Barack Obama that was now cut by the administration of President Donald Trump.

Just Monday, Mexico’s President López Obrador indicated that there were talks with Cuba but dismissed the imminent arrival.

The Pan American Health Organization reported on Tuesday that the peak of the disease could reach the region in a period of three to six weeks, so countries must reinforce their measures.

In Latin America and the Caribbean there are more than 33,300 infected and more than 1,200 people have died.

In Cuba, health authorities for their part reported that COVID-19 cases on the island reached 396 this Tuesday, of which 11 people died – two the day before, including a 101-year-old woman. Among those infected is also a 55-day-old baby.

Mexico reported more than 2,400 cases and at least 125 deaths; At the same time, demand at the border states where deported nationals and Central American migrants accumulate has increased.

The fears on the immigration issue is that infected people can arrive from the United States – where there are more than 370,000 cases and more than 11,800 people have died – and that overcrowding in shelters can endanger many people.

In Guatemala, for example, the third contagion was reported on Tuesday in a migrant who was deported a few days ago from the United States.

In Colombia, the government is evaluating allowing between 8,000 and 10,000 prisoners for minor crimes to serve their sentences under house arrest to contain the spread of the new coronavirus in the country’s prisons.

In Colombia there are 132 prison centers in which some 121,000 prisoners are held. Overcrowding, according to authorities, is 50%.

To avoid riots like the one on March 22 at the Modelo prison in Bogotá – in which 23 inmates died and 87 were wounded, including several guards – the National Penitentiary Institute carries out activities such as chess, physical training, music and drawing to reduce the level of anxiety among prisoners and mitigate the effects of the suspension of visits.

So far in the country, COVID-19 has left 1,780 infected and 50 deceased.

Police General Luis Vargas, director of Citizen Security, said that due to the mandatory quarantine -which will last until April 27- homicides and thefts have been reduced by 51% but at the same time cyber crimes have grown. On the other hand, he assured that the greater control on the roads – which look empty – has caused a drop in the cocaine and marijuana traffic.

Chile, with 5,116 infected and 43 deceased, is the second country in the region, after Brazil, with the most infected, including 286 health officials, of which three are serious.

Of the 18 million Chileans, all those who use public or private transportation of any kind must wear a mask and those who violate the measure will be fined and even risk being arrested. In Argentina, where a quarantine is in force until April 12, there are 1,574 infected and 54 dead.

The Secretary of Access to Health, Carla Vizzotti, reported that 96 beds have been demanded in intensive care units, which is far from an “overflow” situation.

In total, 11,778 tests have been carried out throughout the country, which are analyzed by some 120 laboratories.

On the other hand, opposition leaders questioned the decision of a judge to order house arrest for the ex-vice president and former Minister of Economy Amado Boudou, who until yesterday had served a sentence of more than five years in prison for passive bribery and negotiations incompatible with the civil service. The judgment, appealed, must be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

The pandemic has infected more than 1.38 million people and killed more than 76,500 worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering, which bases its data on reports from the governments and the health authorities of each country.

In most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that disappear in two to three weeks. But in some people, especially older adults and those with underlying health conditions, it can cause more serious illness and even death.

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