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Havana locked down as officials seek to eliminate coronavirus

Havana locked down as officials seek to eliminate coronavirus
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Cuba's government instituted a 15-day lockdown of the country's capital city of Havana on Tuesday in an attempt to weaken the spread of the coronavirus.

The Associated Press reported that Cuban authorities hope to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the city, which contains the last cluster of active cases after preventative measures instituted by the government largely eliminated the virus in the rest of the country.

Lockdown measures going into effect Tuesday include a ban on sale of gasoline to privately owned vehicles and an order barring shops from selling to customers outside of their immediate neighborhoods. Authorities hope these measures will stop residents from traveling far from their homes. The beginning of Cuba's school year has also been delayed.

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Health authorities in Cuba have reported dozens of new confirmed cases every day for the past several weeks, mostly in Havana, a rate far lower than other countries in the region including the U.S. However, the case recurrence has reportedly frustrated local authorities who complain that residents are violating social distancing orders. 

“We are going to demand people follow the rules with a lot of rigor so that our country sees the results it deserves,″ said Cuba's top epidemiologist, Francisco Durán, according to the AP. 

The country instituted a mandatory mask order earlier this year, a step that has been credited with containing Cuba's total caseload that has remains under 5,000 infections. 

The country has reported 4,032 confirmed COVID-19 cases in total, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, and just under 100 deaths from the virus.

Hundreds of Americans were repatriated from Cuba by the State Department in April as borders around the world closed due to travel restrictions put in place to stop the virus's spread.