Cuba ramps up COVID-19 vaccination, paving way for full reopening

Source: Xinhua| 2021-10-25 11:23:25|Editor: huaxia

by Yosley Carrero

HAVANA, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Cuban government continues to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions as the island has ramped up its immunization rate with homegrown coronavirus vaccines.

Across the country, restaurants, cafeterias and sports facilities have gradually reopened as the national bus, train and ferry services are expected to resume operations on Nov. 1.

In addition, bars, nightclubs and leisure centers have also reopened up to 50 percent capacity while museums and galleries are already offering services under physical distancing guidelines and mask mandates.

As part of the post pandemic reopening plan, the Cuban seaside resorts of Varadero, Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria will welcome local tourists starting Monday.

Meanwhile, in the country's capital city of Havana, restrictions on people movement during the night were lifted as locals on Saturday enjoyed outdoor activities held along the city's seafront wall.

Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero instructed government officials to strictly follow all safety guidelines and coronavirus protocols to minimize the risk of contagion with the virus.

"We are taking firm steps to gradually move to another stage," he said during a governmental meeting, adding that more control and "monitoring of protocols fulfilment is required to keep the pandemic at bay."

It comes as the Cuban Ministry of Public Health on Sunday announced that 100 percent of the country's eligible population has had at least one dose of a homegrown coronavirus vaccine.

According to the ministry, 62 percent of people in Cuba are now fully jabbed with Soberana 02, Abdala and Soberana Plus, the three vaccines the island has approved for emergency use so far.

On Sunday, the Caribbean nation recorded 1,319 more COVID-19 cases and 15 more deaths, bringing the country's COVID-19 caseload to 945,750 and death tally to 8,182.

Furthermore, the island has reported 30,971 new infections in the last fortnight, with the province of Camaguey being worst hit and posting 5,335 ones, followed by the province of Pinar del Rio with 4,690, and the province of Sancti Spiritus with 4,217.

Nationwide, daily coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations have continued to decline over the past weeks.

At present, there are 5,731 active cases of COVID-19 in Cuba, 156 of which are in intensive care units, according to official data.

Cuba expects to fully vaccinate more than 90 percent of its population by the end of November, including children aged 2-18.

As a result, international travellers flying into the island will be exempted from a hotel quarantine starting on Nov. 7, a week before the tourism season in the Caribbean nation starts. Enditem