Tackling Swine flu
The World Health Organization declared that a swine flu pandemic is imminent, prompting GCC states to take measures to prevent an outbreak.
April 30, 2009 9:53 by Aarti Nagraj
GCC health ministers are holding an emergency meeting in Doha this weekend to discuss the threat of a swine flu pandemic to the region, although not a single case has been reported in the Gulf. More than 150 people are suspected to have died of the virus in Mexico, and one infant has died of infection in Texas. Swine flu has now spread to seven countries, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that the flu is likely to become a pandemic.
Consequently, GCC states have started taking precautionary measures to detect and prevent the spread of the virus in the region.
Saudi Arabia has stopped incoming flights from countries affected by the swine flu, Khaled Al Medhel, director general of the King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh has told Saudi Gazette. Apart from Mexico, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Britain, Spain, and Israel have confirmed cases of Swine flu.
The kingdom is also installing thermal cameras at all entry points to the kingdom to monitor passengers, Saudi’s health ministry said. Furthermore, the ministry created a hotline for people to call in if they fear they have detected the virus, or have been infected themselves.
As for the UAE, the government has banned all imports of pork meat and derivatives as a preventive measure against the virus. The country has formed two emergency committees to discuss precautionary measures, and has said that it has a stock of one million capsules of Tamiflu, enough for about 40,000 people if there were an outbreak of swine flu.
Kuwait has started airport screening of passengers arriving from countries with reported cases of swine flu for any rise in temperature, the public health officials have said. The country has said that it has around 10 million capsules of Tamiflu, sufficient to treat up to one million flu patients.
Omani health authorities, who held an emergency meeting earlier this week, said that the health ministry has formed a committee to monitor the worldwide effects to combat the flu and are prepared for an outbreak of the virus.
The import of live pigs or any pork products has also been suspended by Bahrain, and the country has said that they are coordinating with the World Health Organization, the Organization of Animal Health and the GCC to take necessary steps to prevent an outbreak of swine flu.
Qatar has ordered health officials at all entry points to the country, including its airports and ports, to screen visitors suspected of carrying the flu. The Ministry of Health has also issued a public advisory informing the public about the precautions they should take to avoid infection.