Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cuba swine flu 'from US tourists'

Cuba swine flu 'from US tourists'
By Michael Voss
BBC News, Havana

Cuba's former leader, Fidel Castro, has blamed the growth in swine flu
on an increase in US visitors to the island.

US President Barack Obama recently lifted restrictions on
Cuban-Americans visiting relatives on the island.

This is the the first time any Cuban official has found cause to
complain about the US president's policy of relaxing travel restrictions.

But, in an editorial published by Mr Castro in all state media, he
suggests more US visitors mean more swine flu.

The 83-year-old former president said that the H1N1 virus had spread to
all the island's provinces, especially those with a large number of
relatives living in the US.

At the same time, Fidel Castro noted, the US trade embargo prevents Cuba
from obtaining equipment and medicines needed to combat the virus.

But he stopped short of calling it a conspiracy. "I don't think, of
course, that it was the intention of the United States government,"
Fidel Castro wrote.

"But this is the reality resulting from the absurd and shameful
blockade," he added.

There have been 800 reported cases of the flu in Cuba, including seven

All of the early cases were from foreign visitors, though not just from
the US.

The head of the World Health Organisation, Margaret Chan, was in Havana
last week and announced that Cuba should start receiving international
swine flu vaccines within a month.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/10/31 22:37:12 GMT

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