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Cuba has reported no new domestic cases of Covid-19 for the first time in 130 days, as most of the country moved into the final phase of resuming normal activities with masks and social distancing.

Francisco Duran, head of epidemiology at the Ministry of Public Health, and who has updated the country daily on the pandemic, took off his mask during Sunday’s national broadcast to deliver the good news.

Only a handful of Covid-19 cases were reported in Cuba over the last week, all in Havana. Most of the Caribbean island, home to 11.2 million inhabitants, has been free of the disease for more than a month.

People with facial masks wait in line at a store in Havana, Cuba, 17 July 2020. Credit: EPA/Ernesto Mastrascusa

People with facial masks wait in line at a store in Havana, Cuba, 17 July 2020. Credit: EPA/Ernesto Mastrascusa Photograph: Ernesto Mastrascusa/EPA

“I always tell you to stay safe at home, but I know many will go to the beach today,” Duran said, before reminding his television audience about social distancing.

The capital’s 2.2 million residents remain at the first phase of three stages of reopening where they can once more move around on public and private transport, go to the beach and other recreation centres, and enjoy a seaside drive just in time for the summer break. They can also dine and have a drink.

Each phase allows capacity at venues to increase from an initial 60%. Interprovincial transportation begins during phase two, while phase three includes schools reopening.

Social distancing and wearing masks remain mandatory in most circumstances.

The country has opened a group of isolated resorts key to international tourism. Phase three broadens international travel, depending on risk.

The communist-run country has been given high marks for its textbook handling of the pandemic.

Cuba’s robust and free community-based health system, door-to-door search for carriers, isolation of the sick, suspected cases and contacts has allowed it to keep the number of infections under 2,500 with 87 deaths.



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