by Yosley Carrero
HAVANA, June 8 (Xinhua) -- The 52-member medical brigade on a mission to help Italy's Lombardy region combat the COVID-19 pandemic returned to Cuba on Monday.
The Cuban health workers were received as heroes. State TV Cubavision streamed live their flight status before landing, and thousands of locals waved to the health workers from balconies and portals.
During the welcome ceremony, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel noted the importance of international cooperation and solidarity, while denouncing the intensified U.S. blockade against the island in the context of the pandemic.
"We are winning the battle against the pandemic at a moment when another terrible pandemic of the U.S. blockade and the economic war against the island have been tightened without mercy of the current U.S. administration," he said.
The first batch of Cuban health professionals made up of 36 doctors, 15 nurses, and a logistics specialist arrived in Milan on March 22, when Italy reported 53,578 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 4,825 related deaths.
Carlos Perez, head of the medical brigade, said they all focused on saving lives.
"Abiding by all security measures and health protocols, we fulfilled our commitment of returning safe and sound, and with the mission accomplished," he said.
All the 52 members will stay isolated for two weeks at Las Praderas medical center located on the outskirts of Havana.
So far, 3,337 Cuban doctors and nurses from the Henry Reeve Medical Contingent have joined the fight against the coronavirus across the globe, of whom more than 2,000 are females.
Cuba has sent 34 emergency response teams to 27 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, and for the first time to Europe, where two Cuban medical teams are still providing health assistance in Italy and Andorra. Enditem