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Them’s the rules Russian tourists forced to quarantine in Cuba after testing positive for COVID-19. Many say they tested negative in Russia.

Source: Meduza

At least 137 Russian tourists who arrived in Cuba between June 30 and July 3 were forced to quarantine in their hotel rooms after testing positive for COVID-19. As of July 5, at least 89 Russian nationals are still in isolation and awaiting the results of repeat PCR tests. However, many of the tourists aren’t convinced that they actually have the coronavirus — while some tested negative prior to leaving Russia, others say they’ve been vaccinated against the disease. Meanwhile, the Russian Association of Tour Operators is telling travelers not to expect compensation for the inconvenience of having quarantine, because they were warned about Cuba’s coronavirus regulations.

At least 137 Russian tourists who came to Cuba in the past week have been forced to quarantine in their hotel rooms after testing positive for COVID-19 upon arrival at the airport.

Among the passengers on a June 30 flight from Russia, 133 people tested positive for coronavirus, including crew members (a second round of testing produced only 33 positive results). At least 130 more people were isolated in their hotel rooms in the days that followed. In addition, 14 Russian nationals who arrived in Cuba prior to June 29 had to quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus. And on July 5, a Russian citizen was hospitalized in Havana due to COVID-19 complications, the Russian Consul General in Cuba, Nana Mgeladze, told RIA Novosti

Russian tourists protesting being forced to quarantine in their hotel rooms in Cuba after testing positive COVID-19

In conversation with the Russian state news agency TASS, Mgeladze said that on July 4, at least 127 Russian tourists who arrived in Cuba between June 30 and July 1 were in isolation in their hotel rooms, along with 10 other Russian nationals who arrived in the country on July 3. In turn, Rostourism (Russia’s Federal Agency for Tourism) told TASS that on the morning of July 5, there were 89 Russian nationals still in isolation who are waiting on the results of repeat tests for COVID-19. Another 103 Russians had been released from quarantine after retesting. 

However, some of the Russian tourists who tested positive in Cuba aren’t convinced that they actually have the coronavirus. On July 3, Instagram user Katerina Tyuleneva posted a video of around 15 Russian nationals who arrived in Cuba on June 30. “It simply can’t be [that] this number of people has so many positive tests. Twenty rooms from our hotel alone. [...] We all went through tests in Russia, they were all negative, half of the people here are vaccinated. It turned out that according to their tests we are all positive, it raises questions,” says one of the women in the video.

Consul General Nana Mgeladze found it difficult to explain why so many Russian tourists tested positive for the coronavirus upon arrival in Cuba, despite the fact that they received negative PCR test results prior to leaving Russia. “Obviously they have some problems with the reagents in the laboratory [in Cuba],” Mgeladze told TASS, adding that the only way to resolve the situation is for the Russian nationals to be retested for COVID-19. 

The consul general also noted that the Cuban authorities wanted to send more than 150 Russian nationals who tested positive for the coronavirus to an observation facility, but Russian diplomats managed to persuade them to let the tourists stay in their hotels. Moscow’s Ambassador to Cuba, Andrey Guskov, personally discussed the situation with Cuban Tourism Minister Juan Carlos García. 

At the same time, the Russian Association of Tour Operators (ATOR) says that Russian tourists under quarantine in Cuba shouldn’t count on any compensation from tour operators. “All tourists heading to Cuba have been warned about the possibility of this situation,” ATOR executive director Maiya Lomidze told TASS. “It’s unpleasant, especially when there are no symptoms, but nevertheless these are the rules.”

Russia resumed flights to and from Cuba in October 2020. According to the Russian Consulate General in Havana, there are currently four Russian airlines that fly to Cuba. They operate 12 flights per week, carrying 450 passengers on average. At the beginning of July, approximately 6,000 Russian nationals were vacationing at Cuban resorts. 

Visitors to the island nation are required to undergo a PCR test no less than 72 hours before their flight and take another PCR test at the airport upon arrival in Cuba.

According to official data, Cuba has recorded around 204,000 cases of the coronavirus and 1,351 related deaths since the start of the pandemic. Over the past two weeks, the number of new COVID-19 infections registered in Cuba daily has increased by 117 percent. 

We won’t give up Because you’re with us

Story by Olga Korelina

Translation by Eilish Hart 

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