A pregnant woman in Holguín, Cuba, accused the government of placing her in a Chinese coronavirus quarantine facility overrun with vermin, lacking water, and far from any health workers, the Spanish publication Diario de Cuba reported Tuesday.
The woman, Yariagnis Cordero, published a commentary on Facebook on Sunday, featuring photos of the dilapidated facility, also protesting that she was assigned a bed draped in the same sheets that another patient, confirmed to be infected with coronavirus, had used before her, and that authorities had not offered any soap or hygiene products for the women there to wash their hands or shower. The quarantine facility was, according to her testimony, set apart for the exclusive use of pregnant suspected coronavirus patients.
The photos show what appears to be a former, potentially abandoned dormitory packed with small metal beds. They do not show any room for the women to keep their clothes or eat and do not appear to give any of the interned privacy from each other or the authorities. Cordero also took a photo of a small, tiled space that appeared to be for toilet or bathing use, but did not feature a showerhead or actual toilet, just a drain in the corner.
Me siento indignadaAyer me trajeron del Hospital Lenin para la Vocacional donde nos tienen a las embarazadas con covid….
“I couldn’t do anything but cry,” Cordero wrote when arriving at the facility.
“They put me on the fourth floor and the doctors are on the first floor, which is to say whoever feels bad has to go down the stairs all the way to the first floor, if they make it,” she explained. “They put me in a bed where another positive case had been without disinfecting or cleaning the bed, I had to sleep like that.”
“I haven’t been able to shower yet because there is no water – a virus that requires so much hygiene and for there to be no water to even wash your hands,” she lamented, “living with mosquitos, frogs, bats, and even a mouse came to visit. And that’s only what I’ve seen in less than 24 hours of being here.”
Cordero described the quarantine experience as being “sad, embarrassing, humiliating” and noted that Holguín did not appear to be lacking in temporary housing such that the Communist Party would need to resort to such poorly tended facilities.
“With so many hotels, visiting houses, maternities that there are in Holguín, to choose this underworld for the pregnant just shows a great lack of sensibility and respect towards such a fragile sector of society,” she protested, concluding, “we’re pregnant women, not stray dogs.”
The Communist Party of Cuba largely ignored the coronavirus pandemic for much of 2020, refusing to implement social distancing measures or even offer children better access to soap and water in schools while promoting itself as an open tourist destination while much of the world locked down. Cuban citizens complained that tourists – identifiable by their more expensive clothes and poor Spanish proficiency or differing accents – appeared to be exempt from mask mandates and other protective measures. The result has been a significant surge in coronavirus cases that appears to continue reaching new heights. The Communist Party’s official statistics showed 93 deaths tied to coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the last day for which full numbers are available, and 8,936 new confirmed cases. Holguín led the way with 13 deaths, followed by Guantánamo and Ciego de Ávila, all eastern territories.
Cumulatively, Cuba has documented over 475,000 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began and 3,608 deaths. Many experts believe these official numbers are far lower than the actual case and death counts for the island since early 2020, citing the documented shortage of PCR tests used to confirm coronavirus cases and minimal access that Cubans have to any health care at all under socialism.
“There are no rapid tests, no PCR. Sick people are given [hospital] leave by sight – they see that they look a little better, look at their x-rays, and let them go,” a doctor in central Villa Clara, commenting anonymously for fear of government retribution, told the Cuban independent outlet 14 y Medio on Monday.
Reports surfaced in early 2021 that the Communist Party had begun putting together quarantine camps for suspected and confirmed coronavirus patients. Like the testimony attributed to Cordero, those who survived the camps complained of extremely unsanitary conditions and poor medical care. The independent outlet Cubanet obtained photos of a sample meal at one of the quarantine camps in Havana, showing a bit of rice, a slab of boiled yuca, two boiled eggs, onions, and what appeared to be a small piece of stale bread.
ὄ Un ejemplo de la comida que dan el centro de aislamiento de la UCI (Universidad de Ciencias Informáticas), en La Habana. pic.twitter.com/U82P3ERxC5
— Cubanet 🇺 (@CubanetNoticias) March 5, 2021
The Global Liberty Alliance, a human rights advocacy organization, confirmed the reports in March.
“Suspected COVID [Chinese coronavirus]-positive cases are being transported to an ‘isolation center,’ which is a minimally converted school,” the GLA described in a report that month. “They are isolated for 5 days, given the PCR COVID-19 test, and if tested positive, are sent to the Military Hospital. If they test negative, they must remain 5 more days before being PCR tested again.”
The GLA also revealed that Communist Party officials were using untested medical treatments on both coronavirus patients and people who had not tested positive for the virus, specifically nasal interferon treatments. Interferons are antiviral proteins often used to treat cancers and various forms of hepatitis. The Castro regime has repeatedly promoted their use to treat Chinese coronavirus despite the lack of clinical data on their efficacy for that purpose. A group of doctors denounced the regime’s practice in early 2020, warning that interferon use in coronavirus cases could “kill, rather than cure” patients.
No evidence suggests that interferons can help prevent coronavirus cases in those not infected, leaving unclear the goal of the regime’s policy of administering nasal interferons on some individuals who have not tested positive for the disease.