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Cuba acknowledges 51 cholera cases

HAVANA — Cuba’s Public Health Ministry acknowledged on Tuesday 51 new cases of cholera in the capital amid growing concerns about the spread of the illness and disappointment in the diplomatic community over the government’s lack of transparency.

The ministry said nobody had died from the latest outbreak, which began Jan. 6, and stressed that preventive measures already taken had put the disease ‘‘on the way to extinction.’’ It said cholera was first detected in the capital’s Cerro neighborhood, and then spread elsewhere. No other areas of the capital were mentioned, but there have been reports of cases in the leafy Playa neighborhood that is home to many foreign embassies.

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The government has not responded to repeated requests for comment in recent months, nor has it made any experts available to talk about the cholera situation. The family of one man, 46-year-old Ubaldo Pino Rodriguez, said last week that he died of cholera in Cerro on Jan. 2, about two weeks after going to the hospital with severe vomiting.

Rodriguez’s sister, Yanise Pino, said her brother had a drinking problem and lived in squalid, unhygienic conditions in a tiny wooden dwelling.

‘‘When he began to feel bad, he thought it was from drinking and nothing else,’’ she said, adding that he left the hospital of his own accord last month. She said that following his death, authorities sealed off his room and told her to burn all his belongings.

Cholera is a waterborne disease caused by a bacteria found in tainted water or food. It can kill within hours through dehydration, but is treatable if caught in time.

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