Wed | Dec 1, 2021

Cuba making strides with COVID-19

Published:Wednesday | October 20, 2021 | 12:07 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

While most Jamaicans procrastinate on whether or not to take the COVID-19 vaccine, it is interesting to note that Cuba, our neighbour, has vaccinated 92 per cent of its population. What this means is that restrictions are easing in Cuba.

Competitively, this will be a game changer in the region for tourism, as tourists tend to prefer destinations with the least hassle. As of November 15, a COVID-19 test will no longer be required for visitors arriving in Cuba if the visitor is fully vaccinated. Screening and random tests will continue, which affects mostly unvaccinated visitors who might be subject to quarantine. Departing tourists can get PCR tests for their return travel for US$30 at Cuban hotels, significantly less than the typical cost.

Cuba’s COVID-19 case count is on a downward trajectory, with an average of 2,700 new cases per day, which is very low relative to their population of 11 million.

In Jamaica, only 10 per cent are fully vaccinated and another 10 per cent await their second shot. The vaccination rate in the Caribbean is said to be approximately 40 per cent in most places. Jamaica, like Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, lags behind most Caribbean states with vaccination rates.

In the United States, 57 per cent of the population is now fully vaccinated; in Canada they have reached 72 per cent; and in the United Kingdom 66 per cent. Another 5-10 per cent await their second shots in the US, Canada and UK.

Airports around the globe are beginning to see an increase in air traffic close to pre-pandemic levels. Vaccinated countries will do everything possible to reduce the risks, by controlling borders and arriving passengers. Those who plan to avoid the jab might find themselves severely restricted, besides living with the risk of getting very ill or dying, if they become infected.

DON’T GIVE UP

Although I don’t believe a national mandatory vaccination policy will be effective in any country, I fully support the right of an employer to keep their workplace safe by asking employees to be vaccinated or provide weekly COVID-19 tests at their own expense. I also support vaccination requirement for entry to sports and entertainment venues which would allow the safe reopening of the entertainment sector, which has been hit hard for a year and a half.

In Rome, Italy, one of the catastrophic epicentres of the pandemic, it is reported that most patients currently in hospitals for COVID-19 (over 90 per cent) are unvaccinated.

I don’t know what other message can be used to convince the unvaccinated in Jamaica, but we must not give up on the public relations effort.

P. CHIN

chin_p@yahoo.com