Cuba to deploy 9,000 troops to prevent Zika virus

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Havana, Feb 23 (IANS) Cuban President Raul Castro called on his people to help prevent the entry of the Zika virus in the island while dispatching 9,000 troops to strengthen vector control and sanitation efforts.

Castro on Monday said there were no confirmed cases of Zika in Cuba to date. However, he ordered health authorities to monitor and address all suspicious fevers while intensifying controls at airports and ports, Xinhua reported.

Should Zika appear on the island, Cuba’s health services have the resources necessary to provide qualified medical care, said Castro.

He recalled that Cuba has worked intensively to reduce the presence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, as well as reducing factors that can stop Zika from spreading, such as poor sanitation.

As part of this plan of action, the revolutionary armed forces will provide over 9,000 troops, including reserves, to strengthen vector control and sanitation efforts.

“In this situation, it is necessary for all citizens and entities to strictly comply with health standards and measures… to prevent the spread of epidemics,” said Castro.

A week ago, Cuba reinforced its epidemiological surveillance at 24 border points in order to detect the possible infection of the Zika virus. As many as 10 airports and 14 seaports have installed temperature scanners to inspect travellers.

The World Health Organisation has warned of the rapid spread of the Zika virus which affected 32 countries in Latin America, declaring it an international public health emergency.

The Pan-American Health Organisation estimated that the virus could affect three to four million people in Latin America over the next 12 months.

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