WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 25th August, 2021) The US Defense Department declined to comment on Sputnik’s request about the coronavirus situation in Guantanamo Bay detention facility amid reports that Cuba is experiencing a surge of new cases.
The authorities in charge of the detention facility, located in Cuba, recently announced they will step up testing of visitors vaccinated for the novel coronavirus. These measures were announced nearly four months after the Defense Department administered the Moderna coronavirus vaccine to 32 Guantanamo detainees. The remaining eight detainees refused to be vaccinated.
“We do not comment on specific detainee medical conditions or medical procedures. Safety is our number one concern, and the health and well-being of detainees continues to be a priority for JTF Guantanamo,” the US Defense Department said when asked about an update on the health situation at the detention facility.
The humanitarian situation in Cuba remains difficult due to the US sanctions imposed against the island nation whose effects are made worse by measures to address the coronavirus pandemic. Bolivia, Mexico and Nicaragua have sent humanitarian aid to help Cuba cope with the situation.
Established by President George W. Bush in 2002, the Guantanamo Bay detention facility has long been criticized for mistreatment and abuse of detainees and human rights activists and international organizations have repeatedly called that it be closed. Former President Donald Trump, signed an order to keep the detention facility open indefinitely, while current President Joe Biden promised to close it.
In July, the White House announced that the Biden administration is aiming to close down the detention facility for good and that it works to transfer its remaining detainees out, but it has set no deadline to effectuate its closure.