Cuba willing to help in effort vs COVID-19 – Zarate

March 30 ------ The government of Cuba was willing to provide the Philippines with assistance in its fight against the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Bayan Muna party-list Representative Carlos Zarate claimed on Sunday. In a Dobol B sa News TV interview, Zarate said that there are solidarity groups in the Philippines who informed him and his fellow lawmakers in the Makabayan Bloc of the willingness of the Cuban government to help the Philippines in this time of crisis.

"Ang isa diyan ay pangalan ay Amistad, yung Philippine-Cuba Friendship Society na pinaabot sa atin yung information na willing naman ang Cuba to help the Philippines, just like tumulong sila ngayon sa Italy at iba pang bahagi ng Europa," Zarate said. Zarate said that aside from European countries, Cuba had also provided help to Venezuela by sending its own healthcare professionals to the Latin American country. "So ito yung minumungkahi natin na pwedeng makipag-ugnayan. Siyempre hindi naman basta na lang ibigay nila sa mga non-government organizations, it has to be government to government," Zarate said. "Yung ating panawagan sa gobyerno ay this time na yung solidarity of peoples and even governments ay ating i-enhance. Dahil itong giyera na ito ay hindi lang giyera ng mga Pilipino, giyera ito ng buong mundo para malabanan natin itong COVID-19," he added.

The Makabayan Bloc, in an earlier statement, urged the Philippine government to request and purchase the medication Interferon Alpha 2B from the Cuban government. Interferon Alpha 2B, the lawmakers alleged, had shown success in treating COVID-19. The Makabayan Bloc also called on the Philippine government to ask the help of healthcare specialists from Cuba to assist the Department of Health in replicating their practices against COVID-19.

On March 24, the Reuters wire service reported that Cuba had confirmed that it had 40 cases of COVID-19. Two of those cases were in a critical state, according to the Health Ministry. Both had pre-existing conditions, including diabetes. In total, Cuba had 1,036 people who were hospitalized for epidemiological surveillance, with 531 suspected of having the coronavirus. A further 37,788 are being monitored in their homes by their physicians.