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MIDDLE EAST: Swine flu deaths registered

DUBAI, 30 July 2009 (IRIN) - Three H1N1 2009 deaths were registered in the Middle East over the past 10 days as the world awaits a vaccine, expected to be available in September, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest briefing note.

On 27 July, Saudi Arabia announced its first death from the virus. The 30-year-old Saudi man was admitted to a private hospital in the eastern city of Dammam on 22 July with a fever and pneumonia but died three days later, despite receiving antibiotics and Tamiflu treatment, according to the Saudi Ministry of Health.

While many concerns were raised over the spread of the virus during the Hajj and Umrah, Mohamed Al-Harthi, health manager at Jeddah airport, said the Hajj terminal would have 20 thermal sensors to check pilgrims and 20 percent more specialist medical staff than last year. The 550-member medical team will include doctors, nurses, lab technicians and pharmacists.

The second death was in the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat on 24 July, where a 35-year-old man died of H1N1 complications. It is the first death from H1N1 in Israel, which has more than 1,500 documented cases, according to officials.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed the Health Ministry on 29 July to order swine flu vaccines for all Israeli citizens. Netanyahu also agreed to increase the supply of anti-influenza medicines by an additional 5 percent, enabling 30 percent of the population to be treated, according to media reports.

On 29 July, the Egyptian Ministry of Health announced 12 new cases, raising the total number of infected people in the country to 238. Egypt was also the first in the region to report an H1N1 death on 19 July.

In Jordan, the Ministry of Health announced on 29 July that the number of cases in the kingdom had reached 75 after three new incidences. Twenty-eight people are still receiving treatment, according to the ministry.

One of the newly detected cases was an 18-year-old boy who was participating in Ajloun Youth Camp where 16 cases had been detected earlier. The ministries of health and interior are expected to ban youth gatherings, local media said.

According to health officials, the ministry has stocks of Tamiflu enough to treat about 300,000 patients and is to purchase US$2.12 million-worth of Relenza inhalers, an antiviral medicine similar to Tamiflu, as a precautionary measure, local media reported.

So far nine cases have been registered in Syria, which on 28 July received special equipment for early detection of influenza from France, according to the Syrian official news agency SANA.

The UAE is making vaccinations mandatory and free of charge for all school children when it becomes available. Only children over five are included in the programme, which will cost the government about $871,000, according to local media.

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Theme(s): (IRIN) Flu

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