News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. March 19, 2020: Several crew members on British cruise ship MS Braemar held up a ‘TE QUIERO CUBA’ banner as officials on the communist Caribbean island many love to hate, agreed to allow the ship with six confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and more than 1,000 people on board, to dock.
The crew member held up the sign as the ship finally made its way to the harbor in Mariel, Cuba, on Wednesday March 18, 2020.
The ship with the infected passengers had been stranded since Feb. 27th in the Caribbean after several cases of the new coronavirus were confirmed onboard and country after country rejected them from docking.
Britain’s Foreign Minister Dominic Raab expressed gratitude to the island’s officials for offering a safe haven to the Braemar. Weary passengers were able to fly back to from the José Martí Airport. international airport last evening on four charter flights. Passengers who had received a positive diagnosis for coronavirus or displayed any flu-like symptoms were to be returned on a separate flight.
Any not considered well enough to fly was offered support and medical treatment in Cuba.
There were 28 passengers in isolation on the Braemar who had shown influenza-like symptoms, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, which owns the cruise line, said. This includes two people who tested positive for the new coronavirus at its last port of call, Willemstad, Curaçao, on March 10.
Since then the ship was refused docking in the Dominican Republic, Barbados and the Bahamas, which are both part of the British.
“We should all remember what #Cuba has done for us, stepping in when none of the British Commonwealth countries and protectorates in the region offered any help,” tweeted one passenger aboard the Braemar, Steve Dale.
In a tweet, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said the island permitted the ship to dock there, insisting “the sick passengers’ lives [were] at risk.”
The Cuban government has so far confirmed 10 cases in Cuba, after reporting its first one last week and on Wednesday confirmed the first death from the coronavirus on the island, a 61-year-old Italian tourist.
Cuba’s early entry into the biotech industry allowed it to harness international expertise and develop medicines to fight dengue fever and meningitis.
One of these, Interferon Alfa-2B, is now being used to combat the effects of COVID-19, writes Helen Yaffe of the University of Glasgow. Amongst the 30 medicines chosen by the Chinese National Health Commission to fight the virus was the Cuban anti-viral drug, which has been produced in China by the Cuban-Chinese joint venture ChangHeber since 2003.
Cuban biotech specialist Dr Luis Herrera Martínez explains that “its use prevents aggravation and complications in patients, reaching that stage that can ultimately result in death.”
CUBAN MEDICAL HELP
In the Caribbean, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines announced that they would request or have already requested medical assistance from their Cuban counterparts.
The first batch of 21 specialist nurses from Cuba will arrive in Jamaica on March 24 to boost the capacity of the health system to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19).