Castro Says Increased U.S. Visits Helped Spread H1N1 in Cuba
By VOA News
01 November 2009
Former Cuban president Fidel Castro says relaxed travel restrictions between the United States and Cuba have helped spread the H1N1 swine flu virus.
In an opinion piece published Saturday in Cuba's state-run newspapers, Mr. Castro says the first cases of the H1N1 viruses were brought to the island nation by visitors from other nations. He says the virus spread the fastest among Cubans with relatives in the U.S.
Earlier this year, President Barack Obama eased restrictions on travel and financial transfers by Cuban-Americans to relatives still living on the island.
Mr. Castro says he does not believe the U.S. purposely spread the virus to Cuba, but he called it shameful that the U.S. trade embargo prevents his nation from procuring the drugs and equipment to fight the epidemic.
Earlier this month, Cuban health officials reported at least three people had died from the virus.
The officials report some 2,100 pregnant woman were being treated for symptoms of the disease. More than 110 of those women were in critical condition.
Despite the relaxing of travel restrictions, President Obama has refused to lift the trade embargo with Cuba. His administration has said the embargo will remain in place as a way to push for democratic change on the communist-led island.