Cuba to quarantine travelers amid COVID-19 surge

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Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Havana

HAVANA (Reuters) - Most travelers entering Cuba as of Feb. 6 will be quarantined for up to a week, the government announced on Saturday, and flights from the United States and some other countries reduced to no more than one per week per airline.

Tourists will have to remain in hotels at their own expense and residents in special centers free of charge until a test at five days comes back negative.

Visitors already must arrive with proof of a negative test for the new coronavirus and take another one at the airport.

Some resorts isolated from the population may have looser rules, and diplomats, businessmen, foreign students and journalists will each have their own locations and protocols.

COVID-19 cases have surged in the country since airports began reopening in November with more than 13,000 cases so far in January, more than four times the monthly toll last year, with deaths now at 213, for a rate of 0.87%, less than half the international and regional percentages.

The government says more than 70 percent of the cases are directly or indirectly linked to travelers, mainly Cubans living abroad visiting family, who disregard home-based quarantine rules.

Flights from the United States, Mexico, Panama, the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Haiti and a few other countries, and which carry many Cubans, had already been reduced this month and now will be cut back further.

(Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)