Via The Miami Herald, a report by Juan O. Tamayo of El Nuevo Herald: Government says cholera cases jump from 85 to 110, but outbreak remains under control. Excerpt from a long report:
Cuban public health officials say the number of confirmed cholera cases has risen from 85 to 100 and advised residents of the worst-hit area, the southeastern province of Granma, to avoid traveling.
Meanwhile, a dissident journalist in Santiago de Cuba, the island’s second largest city, reported that hospital workers there told him eight people had died from cholera in Santiago hospitals.
Cuba’s government has officially confirmed only three cholera deaths and claimed the water-borne disease has turned up in only a few cases outside its focus in Granma province.
Granma epidemiologist Ana Maria Batista reported on provincial television Tuesday that the number of confirmed cases of cholera stood at 110, an increase of 25 from the 85 that she reported on Monday.
She added that general cases of diarrhea and vomiting, the symptoms of cholera, rose by 308 to 4,415 and those hospitalized with similar symptoms dropped from 112 to 81, according to doctor and dissident Santiago Marquez.
Batista also repeated her claim that the outbreak was under control but advised Granma residents to avoid unnecessary travel and avert the further spread of the disease, said Marquez, a resident of the provincial city of Manzanillo.
Batista’s reports on CNC Granma television every night since Saturday have been the lone official comments on the outbreak since a brief government statement July 3 confirmed the three cholera deaths. Dissidents have reported five to 15 dead.
Independent journalist Walter Clavel reported Tuesday that five adults and three children had died from the disease in Santiago, but that authorities had told doctors they could “put anything except cholera on their death certificates.”
There was no way to independently confirm the information that Clavel said he obtained from hospital employees who looked at admittance and morgue ledgers, although his report seemed unusually detailed.
One person died July 6 and another the next day, he told El Nuevo Herald. Two elderly women died July 9 and 10, and the last victim was Juan Solis, 69. The three children were transferred from Manzanillo to Santiago’s pediatric hospital.
Doctors and nurses at the hospital have asked for a meeting with Lazaro Exposito, the Communist Party chief for Santiago province, to complain that the transfer risked spreading cholera to other children, according to Clavel.
Clavel said he telephoned Exposito, who told him that there were two confirmed cases in Santiago. Exposito apparently thought he was speaking to a government official.
The 30-year-old Clavel said he was fired from a state agency that hires out musicians and other artists after he criticized the government. He now writes for the independent Eastern Free Press Agency.
Havana blogger Yohandry Fontana, believed to be a pseudonym for a government security official, reported Wednesday that health officials insisted the outbreak was limited to Granma and that no cholera cases at all had been reported in Havana.