Cuba tightens travel rules in wake of Omicron threat

Havana: The Cuban government continued to take precautions amid mounting global concern over the Covid-19 Omicron variant.

Starting on Saturday, the Caribbean nation tightened travel rules for inbound international passengers as nationwide cases plateau.

All travelers flying into Cuba from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique are now required to show vaccination certificates and negative results of PCR tests taken within 72 hours before arrival, Xinhua news agency reported.

In addition, they are required to take PCR tests on arrival and on the sixth day of their visits as well as to stay in quarantine hotels for a week at their own expense.

The measures were adopted as Cuba on Saturday added 110 confirmed cases of coronavirus and one more related death, taking the national counts to 963,002 and to 8,307 respectively.

At present, there are 608 active cases nationwide, 23 of which are in intensive care units, and no case of the Omicron variant has been reported so far, according to the Cuban Ministry of Public Health.

Currently, restaurants, sports facilities, and leisure centers observe mask mandates and coronavirus protocols in place.

The country’s seaside resorts and hotel facilities are expected to receive more than 100,000 international tourists by the end of the year.

To date, Cuba has vaccinated more than 80 per cent of its population with home-grown vaccines, including children aged 2-18.

In recent days, Cuban biopharmaceutical authorities said that scientists have been assessing the possibility to upgrade the domestic coronavirus vaccines to guarantee the protection of the population against the new variant.

The Caribbean nation expects to immunise more than 90 per cent of its over 11 million residents against Covid before the end of December.

At the same time, the local government in Havana gears up on Monday for a Covid booster shot drive with home-grown vaccines in the Cuban capital, home to 2.2 million inhabitants.

Furthermore, Cuba’s health authorities have instructed people to adopt precautions against mosquito bites as dengue cases soar nationwide.

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