A major think tank has made claims that Cuba is concealing an outbreak of cholera.The Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) said while only two deaths have occurred in recent weeks on the island, out of the 500 cases that have been reported to date "the actual figure is not known".
"In order to keep local panic to a minimum, the island has tried to prevent reports from being leaked," COHA said. The organisation also states that tourist officials on the island have taken on the audacious task of trying to keep news of the disease from circulating.It said travel to Cuba attracts hundreds of thousands of European, Canadian, and Latin American tourists every year, generating US$2.5 billion in 2012.
The think tank said although none of these countries have acted to prevent their citizens from travelling to Cuba, some officials from affected countries, such as the United Kingdom and Canada, have issued advisories recommending that visitors take additional precautions when buying food and water.
COHA said the "shaky" US and Cuban relations have also caused the United States to not make any official statements about the outbreak".
No foreign tourists have, as yet, contracted cholera in Cuba, but it would only take one reported case to spark widespread concern and blemish Cuba's highly regarded tourist reputation, it said, adding that Cuba is "sensitive to the fact that cholera outbreaks cause additional stigma to underdeveloped countries, resulting in a heightened reputation for poverty and vulnerability".