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TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, Fri. April 17 (Reuters) – Honduran Health Minister Alba Consuelo Flores said on Thursday that a Cuban medical brigade would join local medics in the fight against the novel coronavirus as it spreads in the poor Central American country.

Communist-run Cuba has sent its “armies of white robes” to disaster sites around the world largely in poor countries since its 1959 revolution. It also sent doctors to Italy to help the fight against the coronavirus.

“Right now, we’re seeing that health personnel are making us sick, health personnel who are insufficiently qualified, health personnel who definitely have to be replaced because they are fatigued,” Flores told a news conference conducted remotely.

Honduras has 426 coronavirus cases and 35 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

The Cuban brigade is made up of four emergency surgeons, two epidemiologists, six intensive-care nurses and four biomedical technicians, she said, without specifying when they would arrive.

Honduras has some 4,000 medics across 33 hospitals, according to statistics from the Health Ministry. They serve a population of some 9.2 million people, 62% of whom live in poverty.

Cubans arrived in Honduras in 1998 after it was devastated by Hurricane Mitch, which caused more than 5,000 deaths. The program was suspended last year when the Honduran government did not renew the agreement. (Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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