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The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Latin America harder and longer than any other region, but Cuba has avoided the worst of it.

New figures reported by the Ministry of Health suggest that December 2020 was Cuba’s worst month in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 3,000 infections.

To date, 147 people have died of the virus nationally, as Cuba reported 199 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Sunday, taking the national count to 12,424.

Francisco Duran, the Cuban Ministry of Public Health’s national director of epidemiology, advised people to be vigilant and minimize the possibility of COVID-19 contagion.

“Discipline is required to slow the spread of the virus,” Duran said on TV, adding that infected patients, their contacts and reported cases have received 100 percent medical attention from the government. “Our intensive care units for the treatment of the disease have never collapsed.”

As more than 1,200 children and adolescents have been infected with the virus since the beginning of the pandemic on the island in March, local authorities have called on parents to step up steps to protect their children.

Clara Judith Abrahantes, a 39-year-old mother living in the Camilo Cienfuegos district of Havana, told Xinhua that keeping the virus secure is the paramount priority at present.

“During the pandemic, parents have been thinking outside the box to raise awareness among kids about social distancing measures and COVID-19 protocols,” she said. “I always find time to talk to my son about the pandemic, trying to hold a fun conversation.”

Cuban state TV has announced that during the first semester of the year, the island plans to use local COVID-19 vaccine doses to fully immunize its population.

While vaccination may help protect the Cuban population from the virus, Manuel Calvino, a senior professor at the University of Havana’s School of Psychology, said that it should not substitute responsible conduct in regards to social distancing measures and safety guidelines.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the idea that people are the key players to manage their health condition,” he said, adding, “vaccination and self-care will lead to a substantial improvement of our health.”

During a recent government meeting, Lissete Sanchez, a senior expert, said, “Most imported COVID-19 cases are Cuban nationals who come back home while the transmission rate among tourists who stay at hotels is low,”

As of Jan. 1, the island decreased the number of flights from the U.S., Mexico, Panama, the Bahamas, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

Furthermore, Cuba would require tourists to have adverse COVID-19 test results from accredited health institutions as of Jan. 10.

Armando Ruiz, a taxi driver outside the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, expressed faith that Cubans will continue to work hard to cope with the health emergency.

“I feel fortunate not to have gotten infected with the virus. Life is too precious a thing to put it at risk,” he said. “We can win the battle against this terrible disease, if we want to.” Enditem

Despite severe economic problems, Cuba’s government has managed to keep infections consistently under control.

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