Havana, April 21 : The US blockade against Cuba has hindered the arrival of international aid for the Caribbean island to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, a top official said here.
“Besides donations from China, we have received help from different countries,” as well as from the Unicef, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), among others, Xinhua news agency quoted Francisco Duran, Health Ministry’s national director for epidemiology, as saying on Monday.
“Despite the US blockade, solidarity with Cuba goes on,” he added.
The Chinese government and companies have been supporting Cuba’s efforts to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the Caribbean state on March 11.
Some 500 infrared thermometers, 2,000 sets of protective clothing, goggles and shoe covers, 2,000 N95 face masks and 10,000 surgical masks donated by the Chinese government arrived in Cuba earlier this month.
The Cuban authorities have also repeatedly accused the current US administration of threatening governments that request Cuban medical brigades’ assistance in the context of a global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, Cuba reported two new deaths from the coronavirus, bringing its death toll to 36 out of 1,087 confirmed cases.
The economic, financial and trade embargo Washington has maintained against the island since 1962, has strengthened under the incumbent Donald Trump administration.
The embargo prevents, among other things, the island from using the US dollar in international transactions, prohibits Cubans from buying a product with more than 10 per cent US components and establishes that vessels that dock in Cuban ports must then wait 180 days to enter US waters or ports.
The Trump administration has tightened the restrictive measures against Cuba to try and suffocate its already fragile economy in reprisal for Havana’s aid to the Venezuelan regime of Nicolas Maduro.