by Yosley Carrero
HAVANA, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- The daily counts of COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths continue to drop in Cuba as the island's national immunization campaign took effect with homegrown COVID-19 vaccines.
Cuba on Sunday recorded 2,197 new cases and 21 deaths, taking the nationwide tallies to 934,965 and 8,058 respectively, according to the Cuban Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP).
The westernmost province of Pinar del Rio, the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic on the island, has logged 10,166 new cases in the last fortnight, followed by the provinces of Sancti Spiritus and Las Tunas.
Francisco Duran, the national director of epidemiology at MINSAP, said that there are 8,683 active cases in Cuba, the lowest number since mid-July.
"The vaccination drive is very important to contain the spread of the virus, and people must abide by COVID-19 protocols, including hand washing, mask mandates and physical distancing guidelines," he said on TV.
Meanwhile, in Havana, the country's capital and most populous city with 2 million inhabitants, the daily cases dropped from more than 1,900 to just over 100 in the past 10 weeks.
To date, about 86.8 percent of Cuban nationals have received at least one dose of homegrown COVID-19 vaccines, according to official data.
At the same time, local governments across the country continue to ease lockdown measures, including the gradual reopening of schools, beaches, restaurants, and gyms as well as the lifting of restrictions on people's movement during nighttime hours.
The national bus, train and ferry services will resume operations in early November as the Cuban capital prepares for the reopening of theatres, movies and cultural venues before Oct. 20, local media reported.
The Cuban government has also announced that international travelers flying in would be exempted from showing PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests on arrival, and COVID-19 vaccination certificates issued abroad would be accepted by customs authorities from Nov. 15. Enditem