More on Cuba and Ebola

The director of Cuba’s Instituto de Medicina Tropical Pedro Kouri has given an interview to Miami’s Radio Marti about his country’s actions to prevent an Ebola outbreak.  What is interesting is that the broadcaster requested the interview—and that the Cuban official was willing to talk to what the Castro government perceives as a counterrevolutionary mouthpiece.

Dr. Jorge Perez Avila said that Cuban authorities were monitoring airports and sea ports and to identify any travellers who may have had contact with those infected with the virus. He also gave an interview to Reuters news agency, in which he said that all travellers from the affected countries were being sent to the institute for at least 21 days of observation, and that to date 28 people from Sierra Leone, Congo, Nigeria and Cuba had been quarantined.

“If you don’t want to be observed, no problem. You have the right to go back to your country, but not to come into mine,” he said.

The Instituto de Medicina Tropical Pedro Kouri was founded in 1937 and for several years has had  joint research projects with Harvard University It is also where the Cuban medical teams sent to West Africa undergo three weeks of training, but some observers have questioned their preparedness. Last week the Wall Street Journal quoted an Australian World Health Organization (WHO) officer who observed the recently arrived Cuban medical professionals who “watched in concern as the Cubans swapped hand-clasps, pats on backs and other potentially hazardous displays of physical affection. Public health officials warn Ebola can spread on contact, with the virus carried in bodily fluids like sweat.”  The officer said she would be “explaining why they have to stop shaking hands and sharing things.”

The New York Times has an editorial praising Cuba’s response to the Ebola outbreak: