Cuba announced Monday it would allow fewer flights from the United States and several other countries beginning on January 1, due to a surge in coronavirus cases provoked by incoming travelers.
The government said Cubans living or visiting abroad and returning have spread the virus to family members and beyond by breaking quarantine.
Flights from Mexico, Panama, the Bahamas, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic will also be reduced. These countries, along with the US, have contributed the most cases.
The Public Health Ministry reported 3,782 COVID-19 cases from November 1 through December 23, of which it said 71.5% were travelers or their direct contacts.
Cuba currently tests visitors upon arrival and again in five days if they are not staying in hotels. Beginning on January 10, they will also need proof of a negative test within 72 hours before arrival.
While most tourists stay in hotels with international health guidelines and additional local restrictions, returning Cubans stay with family and friends. They are expected to quarantine in place until the second test results come back negative, as are people living in the home they are staying in.
According to official data, Cuba’s daily infection rate per capita remains low – at just 15% of the global average, but it has doubled over the past month.
On Monday, the island reported a new record of 224 cases for the previous day, with visitors contributing 65% of those cases. This brought the accumulated total since the pandemic began to 11,434 reported cases and 142 deaths.