Cuba sends doctors to Italy to assist in a battle against Covid-19

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The Caribbean island has sent its doctors to disaster sites around the world largely in poor countries.

A Cuban medical team made up of 52 health professionals, some of whom with experience combating Ebola in Africa, arrived on Sunday in Italia to help fight Covid-19 in Lombardy, the most hardly hit city.

On Saturday, another 144 health workers belonging to the Henry Reeve contingent, specialized in responding to disasters and major epidemics, left for Jamaica to join the efforts to control and confront the new coronavirus on that Caribbean island.
With the 52-strong brigade, this is the first time Cuba has sent an emergency contingent to Italy, one of the world’s richest countries, demonstrating the reach of its medical diplomacy.

The group is made up of doctors and nursing graduates from all over the country, 70 percent of whom are women, according to Cuban Television.

 Leonardo Fernandez, 68, an intensive care specialist, told Reuters late on Saturday shortly before his brigade’s departure that they were all afraid but had a revolutionary duty to fulfill.

“He who says he is not afraid is a superhero, but we are not superheroes, we are revolutionary doctors. “said Leonardo Fernandez.

Italy is the country that has been worst affected by the highly contagious virus that originated in China, with the northern region of Lombardy bearing the brunt of the contagion.

Its death toll rose on Saturday by 546 to 3,095, according to its head of welfare, Giulio Gallera, who requested the Cuban doctors.

Still, Cuba has one of the highest ratios worldwide of physicians per capita even when excluding those doctors abroad, and its medical brigades for disaster relief continue to earn Havana goodwill worldwide.

Meanwhile Cuba, which is known for its disaster preparedness, is stepping up measures at home too to stem the coronavirus contagion. Twenty-five cases have been confirmed so far.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel announced late on Friday the country would be closing its borders to foreign non-residents from Tuesday in a major blow to one of the motors of its cash-strapped economy, tourism.

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