June 17, 2020 / 4:19 PM / 14 days ago

Cuban dons full-body cardboard shield against coronavirus

HAVANA (Reuters) - Ever since the novel coronavirus reached Cuba, a tall cardboard box with arms and legs can be seen tottering around a Havana suburb, popping into the bakery or butchers, or browsing the newspaper stand.

This is Feridia Rojas, 82, who decided to build and wear mobile housing to shield herself from the virus that is particularly deadly to seniors in a country where personal protective equipment is not sold at stores.

“I am at home, what about you?” reads a message on her box, in a witty nod to Cuba’s coronavirus slogan “Stay at home.”

The widower, whose daughters both live in the United States, said that with no one to run her errands she had to find a way to do so safely by herself, illustrating the resourcefulness and humor for which Cubans are renowned.

“I was worried about the asymptomatic cases who could cough just as I passed,” she said. “So I thought: I’ll do a little house with a cardboard box and wear it.”

The retired Cuban nurse salvaged the box from the pharmacy in her Palatino neighborhood and cut arm holes and a window for her face that she covered in clear plastic.

On top, she glued cake boxes to make it look more like a house with a roof than a flat-topped apartment building.

Slideshow (14 Images)

“She’s very creative,” chuckled her neighbor Zayda Echemendia, adding that Rojas still helped locals with injections at home and the like.

While her mobile home may be less necessary as Cuba’s outbreak appears to have come under control, Rojas said it still provided necessary comic relief.

“In the midst of this pandemic, this stress and anxiety all the time, my little home makes people laugh,” she said.

Reporting by Reuters TV; Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Richard Chang

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