It took about a week and the confirmed death of at least one Cuban stricken by another outbreak of cholera on the island.
Cholera fear in Cuba as officials keep silent
Uvaldo Pino was a neighbourhood barber in Cerro, one of the poorer and more overcrowded districts of Cuba’s capital, Havana.
In late December, the 46-year-old fell sick with vomiting and diarrhoea and died in hospital on 6 January.
The barber’s family say he had two separate tests and both came back positive – for cholera.
“We don’t know how he was infected,” his sister, Yanisey Pino, told the BBC at the family’s home, a few blocks from the capital’s Revolution Square.
“He was treated, he had all the medicine, but his organs didn’t respond. It was too late.”
Yanisey added that her brother was a heavy drinker and had checked himself out of hospital the first time he was admitted.
A week after Uvaldo’s death, Cuba’s health ministry has not yet made any public pronouncement. But there are increasing signs that the barber’s case is not an isolated one.
‘Dozens’ of admissions
Doctors are now making door-to-door enquiries in Havana and anyone displaying possible cholera symptoms is being tested. Suspected cases are being sent to the Tropical Medicine Institute, the IPK.
“All our wards are dealing with this issue – they are almost full,” an IPK employee told the BBC by telephone, before saying she was not authorised to comment further.Food vendors are still out in force in the tourist heart of the Cuban capital
Another staff member, contacted later and also not authorised to speak to the media, said the IPK did not have any confirmed cases of cholera at this point.
But Yanisey Pino says her brother was diagnosed with cholera both by his local hospital and the IPK.
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