Concern About the Omicron Variant in 2022

Concern About the Omicron Variant in 2022
Fecha de publicación: 
5 January 2022
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The increase in positive cases to Covid-19 in recent days in Cuba has jumped from low numbers and two figures, to exceeding 450 daily. The increase has been very fast, even more than with previous variants like Delta.

Everything seems to indicate that it’s due to the high contagiousness of Omicron, which is spread largely throughout Europe and, above all, the United States is currently experiencing the highest records of the pandemic.

The opening of the Cuban borders on November 15th has caused flights to gradually diversify and increase.

Cuban authorities also made measures more flexible for travelers upon arrival, therefore the quarantine in isolation centers and hotels stopped being implemented, not at this time, specifically, for those arriving from certain countries in Africa, and Europe.

In general, economic, and social life experienced a reboot, cultural centers opened to the public, bars and restaurants resumed service in their premises in addition to the home delivery services, which was already in use.

Cuba reopened its borders only a couple of months ago thanks to the mass vaccination campaign that drastically plummeted the number of Covid-19 cases, however, right now Omicron tries to disturb our national peacefulness.

For this reason, the booster vaccine had a great push, more than 2 million doses have been applied, although it’s widely known that vaccines prevent acute symptoms of the disease but not contagion, so having already four doses can’t be the excuse to ignore the disease, and act as if the pandemic had already been over, just as sadly is seen today in some bars throughout the island.

Only five days ago, before December 31st, nearby alarms began to sound. A cousin was positive to Covid-19, because she got sick from a friend who had gotten sick a few days earlier from another friend who had just arrived from abroad. Almost everyone who gathered on those days tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. They met in premises, at night, in the open air, but without distancing and the mask without such need.

The second alarm went off almost at the same time, but from different latitudes, from acquaintances, friends, relatives confronted with the situation within the U.S., entire families infected, lines of almost two days to get a PCR test, because many right now are sick with Covid-19, and on top of that, the press and the street gossip have triggered panic by claiming that the virus is already in the air and it’s very difficult to escape from it.

The bottom line is that once again we have the beginning of the year of extreme care as in 2021, if we don’t want to relive that situation, although luckily this variant seems to be less aggressive than the Delta which left a death toll of thousands of lives in our country. With newcomers from abroad, one must be cautious, wait for symptoms to appear, because even the vaccination certificates and PCR test to be presented here can be susceptible to to fraud.

Due to the importance to know, CubaSí once again shares with its readers the international sanitary control measures that the Ministry of Public Health announced this December 30th to pass since January 5th to stop the stretch in cases we are already experiencing, with greater incidence in the provinces of Pinar del Río, Havana, Camagüey, Ciego de Ávila, and the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud.

Measures to be kept in the international sanitary control:

For travelers from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Malawi and Eswatini.

It will be mandatory:

-Present a complete vaccination schedule at the point of entry.

-Show the negative result of a Real Time-PCR test, top of 72 hours before the arrival.

-At the point of entry, a sample will be taken to perform RT-PCR to SARS-CoV-2.

-They will carry out mandatory quarantine, for eight days, in a hotel designated for this purpose, the traveler himself will pay for the accommodation and transportation.

-On the seventh day a new sample will be taken which, if negative, will allow the discharge from quarantine on the eighth day.

 Measures that are incorporated for international sanitary control:

In the case of travelers from the rest of the world, whether or not they are residents of Cuba:

-It will be mandatory to present a complete vaccination schedule at the point of entry.

-It will be mandatory to show the negative result of an RT-PCR, carried out top of 72 hours before the arrival.

-Random surveillance will be increased, starting with the performance of RT-PCR at the border of travelers from high-risk countries.

In addition to the above measures, for Cubans residing in the country who do not have a vaccination scheme, to enter the national territory, will be mandatory to:

-Take a sample for SARS-CoV-2 PCR-RT at the point of entry.

-Fulfill a mandatory quarantine, for eight days, in a hotel designated for this purpose, the traveler himself will pay for the costs of accommodation and transportation.

-On the seventh day a new sample will be taken, which, if negative, will allow discharge from quarantine on the eighth day.

All crew members and passengers of merchant vessels who intend to enter Cuba, and come from foreign ports, must present a complete vaccination scheme and, in addition, a PCR test will be conducted at the point of entry.

Aircraft and cruise ship crews staying less than 48 hours in the national territory will be exempt from these measures. In both cases they will have to present their complete vaccination schedule.

Passengers of cruise ships and pleasure boats, to enter the country will have to present an international certificate of vaccination against COVID-19.

Foreign travelers who arrive in Cuba and are part of the enrollment of international schools, scholarships in Cuban institutions, technicians, and foreign collaborators who are tenant, will carry out an eight-day quarantine in their respective centers, and a PCR-RT will be carried out on the seventh day of their arrival.

They will not require a complete vaccination schedule:

-Children up to 12 years old, of any nationality or origin.

-Adults who for medical reasons, and accordingly certified, cannot be vaccinated with any of the vaccines approved until today by the corresponding regulatory agencies.

Proposals for other measures within the country:

-Any traveler who arrives in Cuba and tests positive for COVID-19 will be admitted to the Health institutions designated for that purpose in each territory.

-All direct contacts of these travelers will be isolated in designated centers in each territory, or at home, provided that the necessary conditions exist and compliance with this measure is guaranteed.

-Confirmed autochthonous cases who are at risk, or the severity of their condition needs it, will be admitted to Health institutions designated for that purpose. The rest may stay at home according to the conditions of each territory.

-Direct contacts of the confirmed autochthonous cases will be isolated in their homes and, if necessary, they will do so institutionally, for a period of eight days.

-Confirmed pregnant women and children under ten years of age will be isolated in health institutions designated for this purpose.

-The study of the first-order contacts of the confirmed cases will be done as soon as their contact status is known.

-To identify suspicious cases, the investigation of the population in all territories will be reorganized, prioritizing the areas of greatest risk.

-Taking into account the high transmissibility of the omicron variant and its presence in the country, there will be no massive activities that generate crowds. Small format activities will remain in schedule in compliance with the established sanitary measures.

-All the country's territories will send the identified positive samples selected for sequencing to the national reference laboratory of the “Pedro Kourí” Institute of Tropical Medicine.

-Speed up the application of booster doses throughout the country, in correspondence with the availability of existing vaccines.

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff

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