Havana, Jan 28, 2019 (AFP) - A rare and powerful tornado has devastated sections of Havana, overturning cars, uprooting trees and leaving homes in shambles. Three people were killed and 172 injured, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said Monday. A shaken resident, recalling a night of terror, said she clutched her daughter and crouched down in her kitchen as the tornado came roaring in Sunday night. "It was as if rocks were falling -- it was hail -- and I felt things beginning to fall. It lifted my entire roof, and took everything away," Canaima Hernandez, 36, said, sobbing. Hernandez's Havana neighborhood, Regla, was one of the hardest hit by the tornado, which state media said was comparable in strength to the most powerful hurricanes.
Residents picked their way through overturned vehicles, collapsed walls, overturned lampposts, and uprooted trees on Monday morning. Diaz-Canel, who toured the city's darkened streets visiting emergency crews, wrote on Twitter that damage was "severe." In the city's Luyano neighborhood storm debris -- including parts of a balcony ripped off an old building -- blocked the streets, AFP photographers reported. As emergency sirens blared across the city, firefighters and ambulances rushed about on rescue missions, their flashing lights giving light to blacked out areas. "As of now we mourn the loss of three human lives and 172 injured people are receiving aid," Diaz-Canel tweeted. He added that several emergency teams were working hard to restore power to blacked-out areas.
At the Hijas de Galicia maternity hospital staff were forced to evacuate the building due to storm damage. The tornado, spawned by a powerful storm that originated in the Gulf of Mexico, hit western Cuba with winds of up to 100 kilometers (60 miles) per hour. "Islanders are used to these warnings, but they did not suspect the magnitude of what was approaching," said Granma, the Communist Party daily. People described the tornado as having "the sound of a jet engine," and reported feeling changes in the environmental pressure when it arrived, Armando Caymares with the Institute of Meteorology said.
The tornado "caught me in the street, in the car with my wife and children," actor Luis "Panfilo" Silva wrote on his social media account. "I had to dodge fallen trees, flooded areas and strong winds until I managed to get home. We experienced great fear," he wrote. Francisco Sotolongo said it was a good thing the tornado's impact only lasted seconds. "Because if it lasted a minute there would be nothing left here." High winds sent sea water surging over the city's famed Malecon esplanade and several meters into the city. The western provinces of Pinar del Rio, Artemisa and Mayabeque also were affected by the storm.
Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2019 17:58:42 +0100
Havana, Jan 11, 2019 (AFP) - Seven people, including four foreign tourists, were killed and 33 injured in an accident involving a coach in eastern Cuba, local media reported on Friday. A Frenchman, a German woman and two Argentine women were among the dead, along with three Cubans, Venceremos newspaper said. It named the dead as 67-year-old Patrick Demer Tesseran, 59-year-old Annegret Frieda Gohike, as well as Roxana Lauseda Gomez and Nadis Carolina Flores, both 35.
In addition to the dead, three Cubans and two foreigners -- 42-year-old Spaniard Felicita Hurtado and French woman Marline Alphonse, 63 -- were said to be in a serious condition. "Of the 40 passengers, 22 were foreigners from countries like Holland, England, France, Mexico and Canada," said Venceremos.
The coach overturned while driving on the road linking the city of Baracoa, near Cuba's eastern tip, to the capital Havana. The driver said he lost control of the coach due to a wet road, claiming to have been driving slowly, the newspaper reported. However, it said witnesses said the driver had been attempting to overtake another vehicle when he found himself face to face with oncoming traffic, causing him to swerve off the road. According to official statistics, there were 11,187 road accidents in 2017 that left 750 people dead and 7,999 injured from a population of 11.1 million.
26th December 2018
Cuba. 14 Dec 2018. (published) The authors found that a large and unreported Zika outbreak occurred in Cuba during 2017, a year after peak transmission in neighbouring countries, with cases still appearing in 2018. By sequencing Zika virus from infected travellers, they show that the 2017 outbreak in Cuba was sparked by long-lived lineages of Zika virus introduced from multiple places in the Americas a year prior. Their data suggest that aggressive mosquito control in Cuba may initially have been effective at mitigating Zika virus transmission.
The UK newspaper the Daily Mail reported yesterday [3 Sep 2018] that at least 60 British tourists have had to undergo intravenous antibiotic treatment during the current year  after suffering from _Salmonella_ infections while in Cuba. All these tourists became infected after staying in hotel facilities on the island and reported that hygiene conditions around food were not the best. "There were always flies flying over the food; the meat and fish were on the buffet tables raw and without any refrigeration to preserve them," reported interviewed travellers.
Almost all the tourists were affected after staying in the same facility, the Hotel Playa Pesquero de Holguin. At this hotel, 2 weeks ago [around 21 Aug 2018], an English couple who was there to celebrate their wedding and spend their honeymoon lived a nightmare, as, after paying USD 5000 for the event and services, the bride was hospitalized for 5 days and 4 guests became ill from the same _Salmonella_ outbreak.
The complaint was reported by the British media after comments on social networks showed a massive outbreak of food poisoning where everyone agreed that they had been staying in the same all-inclusive hotel, which carries a 4-star rating. Customer complaints were posted on the Facebook page of the Playa Pesquero hotel and confirmed by the same travel agency that organized the trips for these clients.
In the article, they explained that the travellers received free medical treatment, but they had to sign a discharge of responsibilities in which they were committed not to make public declarations on the matter or to establish later demands.
It is not the first time that these complaints have been reported because last year  the news broke that a group of approximately 50 Canadian tourists were infected with _Salmonella_ after consuming food maintained in poor conditions at different hotels when staying in Varadero [beach, Cuba].
[It appears that the salmonellosis outbreak has been spread over most of 2018, which suggests continuing exposure of contaminated food. It is not known if the isolates over time are even the same subtype of _Salmonella enterica_. A similar cluster was reported on ProMED-mail in 2014 from the same hotel. - ProMED Mod.LL]
Washington, June 21, 2018 (AFP) - The United States said Thursday that another diplomat has fallen sick in Cuba with the symptoms of a mystery illness that has hit two dozen of his or her colleagues. "This is the first medically confirmed case in Havana since August 2017. The number of Americans now affected is now 25," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. At least one US official has also been hit by the same symptoms in China, as the mystery deepens over the cause of what Washington has previously suggested may have been some kind of attack.
Nauert said Washington had informed Havana of the latest incident on May 29, before it was formally medically confirmed, and reminded Cuba of its responsibility to protect diplomats on its soil. Another US diplomat has reportedly been evacuated from Havana, but the results of his or her tests have not yet been released.
The apparent victims of the mystery ailment have suffered symptoms consistent with mild brain trauma -- including, in some cases, disorientation and hearing loss. Some American officials in both China and Cuba reported hearing an unidentified noise before falling ill, and initial reports suggested they may have been hit by a secret sonic weapon. But US intelligence and medical experts have been investigating for more than a year and seem no closer to identifying the cause.
After holding Cuba responsible for either carrying out the attacks or failing to protect its officials, the US recalled more than half of its staff and expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington. This marked a major diplomatic crisis following the countries' cautious revival of ties in 2015, but Cuba has firmly denied any role in or knowledge of the incident. On June 10, the Cuban foreign ministry said: "We can confirm that we have no credible hypothesis or scientific explanation that justifies the retaliatory US measures."