Cuba will close schools, bars and restaurants and halt all public transport at night from Thursday after a spike in coronavirus cases, the government has announced.

The new measures come after health authorities announced 550 new cases in 24 hours on Wednesday. The country has had more than 16,000 cases in total, and 158 deaths.

Under the tighter measures, only take-out and home delivery will be allowed from restaurants. All public transport will stop at 9pm.

“Severe fines” would be handed to anyone who did not comply with the rules, state newspaper Tribuna de la Habana said, while Education Minister Ena Elsa Velazquez said on Twitter that school courses would be broadcast on television starting next week.

A total ban on public transport, and restrictions on the movement of vehicles and people from 7pm to 5am, were removed from measures after they were initially announced by state media.

Havana's schools were closed from mid-March to October last year, while those in the rest of the country reopened in September as the epidemic appeared to slow.

The country of 11.2 million people started reopening its economy, and its borders, at about the same time, but has confronted record infection figures following the Christmas holidays.

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