Gulf Sees Surge in Swine Flu Cases

by VR Sreeraman on  June 17, 2009 at 12:24 PM Tropical Disease News   - G J E 4
Swine flu cases in Arab states in the Gulf, a high-traffic transit zone for millions of air travellers, rose to 34 on Tuesday after Qatar reported its first cases, two of them young boys.
 Gulf Sees Surge in Swine Flu Cases
Gulf Sees Surge in Swine Flu Cases

Three people arriving in Doha on international flights were diagnosed with A(H1N1) influenza, and Kuwait also reported that one of its citizens had the virus -- the first among the emirate's resident population.

Qatar's Health Minister Abdullah al-Qahtani said a two-year-old New Zealand boy tested positive for the flu on arrival in Doha on Saturday from Austria after a stopover in Dubai.

And a two-year-old American-Bangladeshi boy transiting Doha on Sunday from New York to Bangladesh who showed flu symptoms was taken to the airport clinic where he was diagnosed with the disease, Qahtani was quoted by the official QNA news agency as saying.

An Iraqi arriving from the United States was also found to be infected with the virus, Qahtani told a news conference.

The Kuwaiti case was of a man who arrived in the emirate on a flight from the United States, the health ministry said on Tuesday. Last month 18 American soldiers tested positive for swine flu in Kuwait.

Saudi Arabia, home to some seven million foreign workers out of a 25.4-million-strong population, announced three new cases on Tuesday, taking its total to 17, the highest figure among the five Gulf states currently affected.

A Saudi student returning from Australia, a Mauritanian woman and a Malaysian nurse -- the last two had both been in contact with infected people -- were all diagnosed with the virus, the health ministry in Riyadh said.

On Monday the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain reported 11 new cases of swine flu among students returning from their studies in the United States, taking the total to 12.

The students, who had been among a group of 13 returning from Washington via Kuwait on the same flight as the infected Kuwaiti man, were quarantined in a Manama hospital, the health ministry said.

Bahrain reported its first case of swine flu in May, that of a 21-year-old Bahraini who had also returned from studying in the United States.

The United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven emirates in which foreigners make up more than 80 percent of the population, also announced on Tuesday that an Emirati arriving from the United States had swine flu and was being treated.

In May a man arriving in from Canada was the UAE's first confirmed swine flu case, but he recovered after treatment.

Oman has not reported any cases of the disease.

The influenza A (H1N1) virus, which was first detected in Mexico in April, has so far infected almost 36,000 people in 76 countries and claimed 163 lives, according to the latest World Health Organisation figures.

Source: AFP

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