Cuban Covid crisis: Havana deserted as curfew comes into force amid virus spike

Havana, Cuba, on Tuesday, September 1, 2020.
Havana, Cuba, on Tuesday, September 1, 2020. © AFP, FRANCE 24

The Cuban capital Havana was all but shut down on Tuesday night as the city was plunged back into a strict 15-day lockdown to combat a spike in Covid-19 cases, leaving shops shuttered and streets eerily deserted.


The measures include a 7pm to 5am curfew, a ban on shopping outside of one's neighbourhood and limits on travel in and out of the city.

For Havana’s residents, the restrictions mean buying supplies in a city often hit by shortages has become an even tougher task.

"My daily job doesn't give me a chance to get the supplies I need for the house,” Havana resident Julio Odelin told AP. “It's really hard because I have to work straight through so when I finish my shift everything will be closed."

Cuba has won praise for its response to Covid-19, which has seen its extensive public healthcare system mobilised to rapidly trace and isolate infected citizens.

The country of 11 million has reported just over 4,000 cases and 95 deaths from Covid-19, one of the lowest rates in the region.

But case numbers have rebounded in the capital following the easing of restrictions in July, rising to dozens a day over the past month, which authorities have blamed on citizens failing to respect social distancing and other health measures.

Anyone breaking the new lockdown rules could face harsh punishment with violators risking a $125 fine, more than triple the average monthly wage.

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